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A FloridaPolitics.com Publication

Women Rule!

FALL 2017

These Are Not The Best Female Lobbyists; They’re Some of The Best Lobbyists–Period.

2017

NDA GOLDEN ROTU WINNERS

featuring GrayRobinson, Group The Mayernick & More

Meet Florida’s Top Political Fundraisers

In-depth with Lori Killinger, Teye Reeves & Katie Webb

Marion Hammer Shoots From The Hip


Critical decisions are made in the Capitol at all hours that impact your business. Make sure you have a team that works day and night for you.

Gerald Wester

Nick Iarossi

Ron LaFace, Jr.

Chris Schoonover

Ken Granger


Named

“LOBBYING FIRM OF THE YEAR” by INFLUENCE Magazine Spring 2016.

Ashley Kalifeh

Scott Ross

Andrew Ketchel

Dean Izzo

CapCityConsult.com | 101 E. College Ave., Suite 502, Tallahassee, FL 32301 | 850.222.9075

Jim Boxold


CREATE A SAFER FLORIDA WITH THE COMBINED POWER OF P25 RADIO AND PUBLIC SAFETY LTE PUBLIC SAFETY BECOMES MORE OF A CHALLENGE ON A DAILY BASIS. Outside threats continue to evolve at an accelerated pace. Florida’s First Responders need new capabilities that will empower them to work cohesively, while giving them the ability to access and share information instantaneously.

70%

AGENCIES SAY DATA IS AT LEAST AS CRITICAL AS VOICE3

67%

OFFICERS WANT ACCESS TO HIGH-SPEED DATA IN THE FIELD3

78%

RESPONDERS USE SMARTPHONES ON THE JOB3

80%

OF CITIZENS BELIEVE DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY IMPROVES POLICING1

10X

INCREASE IN MOBILE DATA TRAFFIC FROM 2014 TO 20192

72%

GLOBAL MOBILE TRAFFIC THAT WILL BE VIDEO BY 20192

Source: 1. Accenture Citizen Pulse Survey on Policing 2014 2. http://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/collateral/service-provider/visual-networking-index-vni/white_paper_c11-520862.html 3. 2014 Public Safety Industry Survey, Motorola Solutions


MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS INNOVATION ENABLES FLORIDA FIRST RESPONDERS TO RISE TO THE CHALLENGE.

Just as the Project 25 (P25) Digital Radio is the indispensable voice and data network for mission critical communications, Public Safety LTE will be for broadband data and auxiliary voice. Both are critical components of next-generation policing technologies being developed in Plantation, Florida, and are powerful in their own right. But their true potential will be realized, when they converge.

DIGITAL LMR & LTE: BOTH SERVE A PURPOSE PUBLIC SAFETY LTE

P25 DIGITAL LMR

=

+ MISSION CRITICAL COMMUNICATIONS

LMR/LTE CONVERGENCE

BROADBAND COMMUNICATIONS

COLLABORATIVE COMMUNICATIONS

ULTIMATE RESULT: IMPROVED EFFICIENCY AND SAFETY

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONVERGENCE Public safety agencies must continue to seek funding for Land Mobile Radio (LMR) systems, equipment, and enhancements in order to sustain and improve mission-critical voice communications among public safety responders. Without continued investment in LMR systems to sustain mission-critical voice communications, capabilities could be compromised during response operations. Source: Department of Homeland Security - LMR for Decision Makers

PLANTATION, FL INNOVATION CENTER: WHERE MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS DEVELOPS NEXT-GEN TECHNOLOGY FOR PUBLIC SAFETY

MOTOROLA’S MISSION CRITICAL VOICE COMMUNICATIONS THE POWERFUL PLATFORM THAT WILL FUEL AND SUPPORT PUBLIC SAFETY LTE. For more information about Motorola’s Convergence Suite, visit us at: motorolasolutions.com/convergencesuite MOTOROLA, MOTO, MOTOROLA SOLUTIONS and the Stylized M Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of Motorola Trademark Holdings, LLC and are used under license. All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. © 2016 Motorola Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.


PUBLISHER’S | NOTE

@ SaintPetersBlog

The Process – and this mag – can’t just be about dudes.

I

could not have been more proud. The final draft of the first edition of INFLUENCE Magazine was in my hands. I had never published a magazine before, but here were 144 pages written, designed, and edited. The next stop was the printer. Before I shipped it off, I decided to show the final version to my wife, Michelle. She knew I was working on a magazine (what else could I have been doing in my office all that time?) but she had not seen the actual work product. Now she would.  “This is a lot of dudes,” she said matter-of-factly.  Her verdict was right on and devastating. The magazine was filled with men. It was 144 pages of pictures and stories about middle-aged white men.  But what could I do? Not only was that edition of the magazine ready for the printer, its content reflected the realities of governmental affairs.  It’s a male-dominated industry.  All but three of the top 30 lobbying practices are headed by white men. There was no getting around putting a lot of dudes in that magazine.  But going forward, I committed to telling more stories about successful women in The Process.

Which brings us to this edition of INFLUENCE Magazine. This is not a special women’s edition.  There’s no list of the top female lobbyists. This issue is about some of the best lobbyists in the industry. Period.  What I hope to accomplish with this edition is to show that the industry is changing, albeit slowly. It’s still male-dominated, but increasingly, women do rule. This is especially true within the youngest cohort of professionals.    As many of you know, I am the proud father of a young girl, Ella Joyce. This edition is for her.  Few things about parenthood have been more frustrating than the institutionalized effort to limit opportunities for girls. (Why, exactly, are the toys about science in the boys’ section, but not the girls’?) I want Ella Joyce to grow up in a world where no door is closed to her.  On the pages which follow are features, interviews, and stories about the kind of woman Ella’s mother and I hope she grows up to be. Intelligent. Strong. Fierce. Considerate. Ambitious. Empathetic. Many of these women are recipients of a Golden Rotunda — our award for being among the best in the business. This is the second year of the Golden Rotundas and we received hundreds of nomi-

nations and votes. Congratulations to all of the winners. One final note: in the next edition of INFLUENCE, we’ll unveil who made the INFLUENCE 100 — our list of the most influential people in Florida politics.  I have a feeling there won’t be as many dudes on it as there was on the first list. 

Peter Schorsch Publisher

Peter@FloridaPolitics.com

8 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


INFLUENCE MAGAZINE A FloridaPolitics.com Publication

PUBLISHER

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Peter Schorsch Phil Ammann

EDITOR-AT-LARGE

CREATIVE DIRECTOR

EDITOR

CONTRIBUTORS Josh Cooper Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster Tisha Keller Rochelle Koff

Michael Moline Mitch Perry Jim Rosica Kati Schardi

ART Dennis Ho Fred Piccolo

Phil Sears Benjamin Todd

STAFF PHOTOGRAPHERS

Mary Beth Tyson Mark Wallheiser

DIGITAL SERVICES MANAGER

Daniel Dean

Rosanne Dunkelberger Christy Jennings Jim Rosica

SUBSCRIPTIONS One year (4 issues) is $25. Subscribe at InfluenceMagazineFlorida.com

INFLUENCE Magazine is published quarterly by Florida Politics, LLC, a subsidiary of Extensive Enterprises Media, LLC. 204 37th Avenue North, St. Petersburg, Florida 33704. INFLUENCE Magazine and Extensive Enterprises Media are not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts, photography or artwork. Editorial contributions are welcomed and encouraged, but will not be returned. INFLUENCE Magazine reserves the right to publish any letters to the editor. Copyright August - October 2017, Extensive Enterprises, LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 9


CONTRIBUTORS Q:

WHICH FEMALE JOURNALIST OR WRITER HAS INSPIRED YOU?

JENNINGS

FOERSTER

DICKINSON

JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER

CHRISTY JENNINGS

As someone who spent her career in journalism covering government, I found inspiration in the reporters and editors — like Lucy Morgan and Geneva Overholser — who questioned the powerful and made tough calls to enact change in their community. Well, and Lois Lane, of course, for her impeccable fashion sense.

In the last 20 years of doing graphic design I have searched out women in my field and have been inspired by artists like Paula Scher, Carolyn Davidson, Anne Willoughby, and Marian Bantjes to name a few. Seeing their creativity and hearing the thought and process behind their design helps fuel my right brain.

DUNKELBERGER

JOY DAUGHTERY DICKINSON

I’ve been inspired by Pat Mitchell, the editorial director of TEDWomen. Mitchell has spent her life using the media to achieve social change. In a world where voices compete and often shout for attention, Pat has the vision and the passion to ensure that women are heard.

ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER

While she wrote and directed some of the most iconic rom-coms of the late 20th century — “When Harry Met Sally” comes to mind — it’s the late Nora Ephron’s essays that have always bedazzled me. She had extraordinary talent, but her musings on everything from doughnuts to her neck made women say, “yes, that’s me!” Pretty much every time I scribble down a funny observation about everyday life, Ephron has written it already, and infinitely better than I ever could. 12 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

KOFF

ROCHELLE KOFF

I have long admired the resilience and talent of my friend, writer-editor-author Kristy Montee. I met her right after she was demoted at The Fort Lauderdale News. She had been hired at age 23 to transform the paper’s women’s section and she upset the old guard (I was part of the new guard). Kristy had the guts and skill to succeed. She not only got her job back, she later became an assistant managing editor. Today, she’s a successful author (writing as PJ Parrish), and still my hero.


MOLINE

PERRY

MICHAEL MOLINE

KRISHNAIYER

KARTIK KRISHNAIYER

I personally admire everything Lucy Morgan has been able to accomplish in her years covering Florida’s government and political scene. A pioneer and a trailblazer with the St. Petersburg Times, Morgan brought a fearlessness to her work and a unique understanding of her subjects. Morgan’s ability to penetrate and expose those in power while being a women in a man’s world to this day leave me in awe. Today it’s easier perhaps to be a Lucy Morgan than ever but when she began covering her subjects it was a difficult and thankless task — one that only an individual with her determination could have accomplished.

Diane Roberts launched her “Das Kapital” column for the old Florida Flambeau, under the byline DK Roberts, in 1983. A lobbyist pal had suggested her gimlet eye might discover truths in the Florida Legislature overlooked by more respectable journalists. It did — and how. Diane trafficked in the telling detail — the loft of a lobbyist’s heels; the quality of flower arrangements; a senator’s “mask of implacable stupidity.” This Sigma Kappa had fangs. Her philosophy: “Cast a cold eye on the powerful. Watch. Never trust. Take notes.” Today she’s an FSU English professor who contributes to The New York Times, Washington Post, the Guardian and the BBC.

ROSICA

MITCH PERRY

One of my favorite journalists writing about politics and public policy in Washington is Michelle Cottle, now with The Atlantic. I became a fan when she first started writing for the New Republic in the late ’90s, and actually met her (not that she remembers the occasion) at a John McCain campaign event in Burlingame, California a week after he stunned George W. Bush in New Hampshire. She’s one of my favorite writers because of her writing style — it’s sharp and witty and I always appreciate anyone who can write that way about politics.

JIM ROSICA

Joan Didion, who is the subject of a new documentary on Netflix out in October. Vogue’s Dana Spiotta says it better than I could: “Ultimately it was (her) sentences that astonished me: the cadences, the hard surfaces, the precise revisions of previous formulations, the jolts of tangible detail.”

FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 13


FA L L 2 0 1 7

INFLUENCE MAGAZINE features

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

78 THE SECOND ANNUAL GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS The votes have been taken, the bills have been signed, and the players have weighed in. Now it’s time to meet the lobbying firms and advocates selected by their peers as the best-of-the-best in 2017.

116 Women Rule

124 In Charge

To kick off a special section devoted to women in The Process, communicator Christina Johnson takes six successful advocates on a wide-ranging discussion of the triumphs and challenges of lobbying throughout the years.

Katie Webb and Lila Jaber aren’t just advocates, they’re running the show in their lobbying practices.

122 Lori Killinger The Lewis, Longman & Walker shareholder shares lessons from her life of lobbying.

128 Defender of the Wall Teye Reeves wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the guys when opposing “whiskey and Wheaties” legislation.

132 Ron Book’s Not-SoSecret Weapons Florida’s lobbying heavyweight isn’t a one man show. He credits much of his eponymous firm’s success to longtime colleagues Kelly Mallette and Rana Brown.

14 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

134 All About the Benjamins Nine women share their stories of life as a political fundraiser.

148 Marion Hammer: What I’ve Learned The longtime NRA lobbyist credits her legislative successes to a commitment to the Second Amendment and the truth. And woe betide the lying lobbyist or lawmaker.


L I B E RT Y PA RT N E R S of Tallahassee, LLC

Jennifer J. Green, CAE, DPL President

Melanie S. Bostick, DPL Vice President

Timothy “Tim” Parson, DPL

Director of Government Relations

@LibertyPartners

@LibertyPartnersTLH

(850) 841-1726 | www.libertypartnersfl.com FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 15


INFLUENCE MAGAZINE

departments

29

34

17 57

36 Top Chefs While restaurant kitchens are usually the purview of men, these women are living their culinary dreams.

34 In the Kitchen

With Josh Cooper

PHOTOS: respecitve publishers (books); Phonesoap; Mark Wallheiser

Barbecue champ Josh Cooper shares secrets for tailgating success and a recipe for a surefire pre-game winner, “cupcake” chicken.

47

Insider’s Advice 69 No Doubt MICHELLE UBBEN posits that women are effective legislators if they have the confidence to run and assume leadership positions.

17 Political

Aficionado’s Guide

A look at Florida’s hopes for Major League Soccer, the best unheralded movies of 2017, and the women’s take on music, books and essential gear.

64 Picture This A visual guide to the people in Jack Latvala’s orbit, and a graphic peek at the net worth of next Session’s legislative leaders.

16 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

73 The Cash Conduit NOREEN FENNER says political committees are fast becoming the preferred method of supporting candidates and spreading a message.

On the Move Briefings from the Rotunda

46

75 Pollster Calling

Fourth Floor Files

57

The Big Question

154

STEVE VANCORE declares phone polls aren’t perfect — but they’re the best we’ve got.


Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

the Political READS

|

BEST

STUFF

|

MOVIES

|

S P O RT S

|

MUSIC

PHOTOS: Courtesy individual publishers

GOOD

­­ he distaff view T of 2016’s election hits bookstores BY ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER

N

ot surprisingly, women were all over the 2016 election cycle — as pundits, political consultants, reporters and, most notably, as the Democratic presidential nominee. And while the apples ripen on the trees, fall 2017 has become the season for a women’s-eye view of what happened almost a year ago.

WHAT HAPPENED

BY HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON Of course, the most highly anticipated of this crop is Clinton’s post-mortem on her ill-fated campaign, which hit bookstores Sept. 12. She gives her view of her run as the first woman nominated for president in a major party — with topics including the challenges of being a strong woman in the public eye, mistakes that were made, and how she was able to cope with a shocking and humiliating defeat. This book, she has promised, will not be circumspect. “In the past, for reasons I try to explain, I’ve often felt I had to be careful in public, like I was up on a wire without a net,” Clinton wrote in the book’s introduction. “Now I’m letting my guard down.”

UNBELIEVABLE: MY FRONT-ROW SEAT TO THE CRAZIEST CAMPAIGN IN AMERICAN HISTORY

BY KATY TUR At the beginning of the presidential primary season, Tur went on the road to cover the then-long shot campaign of Donald Trump for NBC. She was an eyewitness to history for those 16 months and became part of the story when the FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 17


candidate, stung by Tur’s reportage, began personally attacking her, calling her “disgraceful”, “third-rate”, and “Little Katy” while berating her and other reporters during campaign rallies. Like Clinton’s book, it was published Sept. 12.

BE FIERCE: STOP HARASSMENT AND TAKE YOUR POWER BACK BY GRETCHEN CARLSON From Trump’s pre-debate panel of Bill Clinton’s sexual harassment accusers, to his “blood coming out of her wherever” assessment of debate moderator Megyn Kelly, to the too-hot-for-TV revelations of the “Access Hollywood” tape, there’s no doubt about it: Sex was a hot topic throughout the 2016 election cycle. In the midst of the brouhahas, Carlson left her job as a Fox News Channel host and filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against network chief Roger Ailes, which would ultimately lead to his ouster from that position (Ailes died in May). “Make no mistake –  sexual harassment is not just about sex. It’s really about power,” Carlson said. “Sexual harassers feel they can get away with it because they believe they’re the ones holding all the cards. We need to encourage women to stop being silent, stand up and speak up and join the movement. Together we can make change.”  Be Fierce was released Sept. 26.

Once you’ve finished reading the newest titles to hit the bookstores, here are a couple with views from the left and the right — and from the past.

“IN TRUMP WE TRUST”

BY ANN COULTER Nobody speaks for the right quite as colorfully — or polemically — as Coulter. This — her 12th — book was published in August 2016, a hot minute after the Republication National Convention wrapped up but before President Donald Trump pulled off the seemingly impossible when he won the presidency in November. Because of the timing, in this book, Coulter aims most of her rhetorical darts at the Republican establishment in general, and Trump’s primary opponents in particular. The high-priced consultants (who bought into the notion Republican tent needed to be bigger) turned the field of Republican primary candidates into mealy mouthed purveyors of political correctness during the course of a dozen debates, she wrote. Trump “killed” at the debates, Colter said, connecting with voters with a combination 18 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

of tough talk and easily understood policy — bomb ISIS, bring jobs back to the U.S, make China pay, repeal Obamacare, stay out of wars overseas, and his sure-fire immigration crowd-pleaser, build a wall. Now that President Trump is wrapping up his first year as president, it is an interesting exercise to review Coulter’s book, both to marvel in its prescience and to see where his administration might now be drifting from those hardline, pre-election views.

“WHO THOUGHT THIS WAS A GOOD IDEA? AND OTHER QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD HAVE ANSWERS TO WHEN YOU WORK IN THE WHITE HOUSE”

BY ALYSSA MASTROMONACO WITH LAUREN OYLER Mastromonaco’s career in politics ultimately took her to the job of assistant to the president and deputy chief of staff for operations at the White House. It includes a memoir of her career, which was fast-paced and detailed to the nth degree, since much of it dealt with scheduling and advance work for campaigns, and for President Barack Obama. Her style is chatty and intimate (maybe too intimate, many of her tales revolved around gastrointestinal problems) and geared toward young women between the ages of 15 and 25. She has dozens of war stories that lead into the sort of advice a young career woman might get from a benevolent aunt. There was the time when, working for the John Kerry presidential campaign, she trashed her personal credit after charging things like airplane charters totaling $500,000 — and then the campaign let payment slide for 60 days to beef up a quarterly report. The book also includes a packing checklist that could prove useful for any busy person on the go. She also had some interesting

words of wisdom gleaned from her search for a position after her high-flying years with POTUS, which would be useful in a search for gainful employment. Here’s what Mastromonaco advises when you’re asked what you expect to earn in the job you’re applying for: “… if anyone asks them to tell them what you want, you should respond as follows: ‘I’m sure there’s a salary band for the position, and my hope would be to come in at the high end of that.’”

ELEANOR ROOSEVELT — IN HER WORDS: ON WOMEN, POLITICS LEADERSHIP AND LESSONS ON LIFE

BY NANCY WOLOCH This relatively new title was published in early September, and features excerpts from Roosevelt’s newspaper columns, radio talks, speeches and correspondence. Readers will find many of the issues we face today are ones she addressed in her contributions, starting in the 1920s, touching on topics such as marriage, politics, Word War II, civil rights, and the United Nations.


FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 19


"THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEM IN COMMUNICATION IS THE ILLUSION THAT IT HAS TAKEN PL ACE." GEORGE BERN ARD SHAW

Bascom Communications & Consulting, LLC has worked inside the halls of government, sat inside the war rooms of campaigns, and advised some of Florida's most innuential trade associations, leaders, CEOs and Fortune 500 executives. Our team’s passion for what we do drives our work product every day, translating into success for our clients.

BascomLLC.com | @BascomLLC | FB.com/BascomLLC | 217 S. Adams St., Tallahassee, FL 32301 | 850.222.2140 20 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... GEAR

Women Working It Keeping up with — and besting — ‘the boys’ takes special skill, lots of drive and some really useful tools. We’ve gathered the best gear for helping you get ‘her’ done. CURATED BY TISHA CREWS KELLER

PHOTO: Aella

A FLARE FOR IT Mixed and matched with your favorite top or colored blazer, Aella’s High Waist Flare pant is a well-fitting, business-appropriate pant that is figure-flattering and easily transitions to evening events and dinners. Machine-washable, with a front-zip closure, it’s available in regular and petite sizes from 0-14. $245, aella.co

FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 21


FOR THE HEROINE Perfect as a gift to the brave woman in your life, or even to celebrate your own self-redemption, the Hero Heart charm measures over 1 1/4 inches in length and is accented with a genuine ruby stone charm. Inscribed with “I’m The Hero of this story,” this necklace will inspire the wearer to always believe in herself. All Isabelle Grace Jewelry pieces are made in the USA by local artisans using recycled metals whenever possible. There is no assembly line; no mass production. Available in sterling silver or 14K gold-filled chain and plated charm. $62, isabellegracejewelry.com

WEARABLE PAIN RELIEF The Oska Pulse is a health-tech wearable product great for anyone with pain who is looking to find relief. The unit is a small, portable, wearable pain-relief device without drugs or side effects (with a 90-day money-back guarantee). It’s great for after workouts, yoga, running, tennis, golf, travel — and of course, pounding the marble floors of the Capitol. Ergonomically designed, it fits anywhere on your body. Try it risk free. $399, oskawellness.com

GERM SLAYER Numerous studies show the

average phone carries 18 times more bacteria than a public toilet seat, including staph, E. Coli, and super bug MRSA. PhoneSoap 2.0 is a paperback-sized gadget that uses UVC rays (the same used by hospitals) to sterilize phones — and anything else that fits inside. It only takes 10 minutes, a charge-cord slot in back lets you recharge while it works, and the case is designed so every notification can still be heard, making sure important texts and calls are never missed. $49.99, phonesoap.com

TECH BOUND Old-school-meets-hi-tech

toolbox with the Power Planner Power Bank Journal. We all have tech to tote and charge. But an increasing number of us also doodle, note take, or journal our life on paper. How to marry these two seemingly opposing worlds? Solved: The Power Planner. With 13 features packed into one product, we don’t know of a better way to look fantastic while keeping it together. Each ringed planner encloses a power bank, power cords, phone pouch, tablet caddy, file pocket, 160 journaling pages, a removable binder, credit card slots, and more. Available in four popular color combos. $79.99, techcandycases.com

22 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

PHOTOS: Isabella Grace, Tech Candy, Phonesoap, Rbin b., Osaka Wellness

PERFECTLY SUITED Classic garments are appropriate for all ages and body styles, and they radiate confidence without being distracting. If you stick to them, half the battle is done. Classic pieces, tailored to perfection and made in America, are the signature of the robin b. capsule collection. Ten machine-washable, essential items are guaranteed to nail the first impression. They are tried-and-true classic silhouettes, including a one-button blazer, a tailored pant, a pencil skirt and more. $155 and up, robinbstyle.com


FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 23


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

PhotoS: Courtesy of Obscured Pictures

MOVIES

‘Lost City of Z’

They didn’t have big box office, but these films deserve a look-see on demand BY MITCH PERRY

W

ith first-run American films going to video on demand sooner than ever, the discriminating filmgoer no longer views that many movies in a theater. But one still can see most of the new offerings from the comfort of home. Here are some of our picks for the most underrated 2017 releases of the year that are probably accessible on your video-on-demand, or VOD, channel. 24 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


“CHUCK”

This may be my favorite movie of the year, period, underrated or not. It’s the Chuck Wepner story, an entertaining biopic of the man who literally inspired Sylvester Stallone to write “Rocky” in 1975, but never came close to enjoying Stallone-like fame. “Chuck who?” you might ask. Longtime boxing aficionados will remember when Muhammad Ali, very much in his prime in 1975 after regaining the heavyweight championship by defeating George Foreman in the “Thrilla in Manila,” for some reason took on Wepner, a 36-year-old club fighter from New Jersey also known as “The Bayonne Bleeder.” Perhaps the fact that Ali fighting a white guy could help ticket sales was the predominant reason the match was made. Wepner is played in the film by the great Liev Schreiber. There’s lots of sex, drugs, and disco in this story of Wepner’s short ascent into fame, followed by a lot of excess and screwing around until he hits rock bottom — prison after being busted for possession of cocaine. It’s an exhilarating and fun ride, and essential viewing for any sports fan or fan of the 1970s. Naomi Watts, Schreiber’s partner in real life until their break-up last year, is almost unrecognizable playing Wepner’s third wife, Linda.

“A GHOST STORY”

Do not watch this film if you’re in the mood for some light entertainment. If you are in the mood to contemplate what actually becomes of us after we leave this mortal coil, however, you’re in luck with this film, directed by David Lowery. Certain films demand more attention from the audience than we’re used to, and that’s why this film is probably discomfiting for some. There’s little dialogue, but there are some extremely long takes, such as when the camera focuses on co-stars Rooney Mara and Casey Affleck for what feels like an awfully long time. “A Ghost Story” is essentially about the afterlife; for most of the film, Affleck wears a bed sheet with slits cut around his eyes. But it’s a haunting picture that will stay with you for a long time.

“LOST CITY OF Z”

This is the adaptation of journalist David Grann’s 2009 book about Percy Fawcett, a British explorer who disappeared in the Brazilian jungle in 1925. His exploits inspired plays, comic books, and an Indiana Jones novel before Grann took on this story, which ran in The New Yorker. The film features “Sons of Anarchy” star Charlie Hunnam as Fawcett, Sierra Miller as his wife, Nina; Tom Holland (the latest Spider-

‘Lost City of Z’ man) as their eldest son, Jack; and Robert Pattinson as fellow explorer Henry Costin. It’s a story of obsession and a search for the New World.

“NORMAN”

Richard Gere has been on a roll of late in the latter part of his more than 40-year career, and he excels here as Norman Oppenheimer, the CEO of Oppenheimer Strategies. He’s called a fixer — the film’s subtitle is “The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer” — but the Yiddish term is a “macher.” What’s that? Norman might say it’s whatever you want it to be. He’s got incredible self-confidence, even though as the story progresses one questions where he gets that indefatigable countenance. While mocked by some, Norman connects with an important Israeli public official visiting New York City, and well, you’ve got to check it out. Things turn tragic in the end, but it’s a great yarn.

“THE CIRCLE”

Otherwise known as the Tom Hanks film that tanked this spring. Or the Dave Eggers film that tanked, or the second straight Tom Hanks/Dave Eggers Hollywood production that came out in the spring that was a critical failure.

But I come to praise “The Circle,” not to bury it. Eggers has had a meteoric career, at least when it comes to Hollywood buying up his novels to adapt for the big screen. He first made a splash on the writing scene with his somewhat-fictionalized memoir, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius,” in 2000. “The Circle” came fully hyped at publication time, with a big excerpt in The New York Times Magazine in the fall of 2013. By the time the movie came out this spring, it was lambasted by critics as pretentious and stale, but its narrative about the death of privacy in the digital age remains an essential message in these times. Hanks, the Jimmy Stewart of the 21st Century, plays against type as Eamon Bailey, a Steve Jobs-esque guru who believes in democratizing society through the accumulation of all human experiences. Bailey preaches that complete openness is the only way society can come together. Emma Watson plays Mae Holland, who takes a gig with The Circle, which is meant to be a hybrid of Google/Apple and all those other formerly cool Silicon Valley campuses now viewed a little less enthusiastically as technology continues to take over our lives. “The Circle” is not a great film, but its message is not insignificant these days. FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 25


FLORIDA MEDICAL ASSOCIATION

The Voice of Medicine For more than 140 years, the Florida Medical Association has been the most influential voice for medicine in the Sunshine State. No other organization can match our track record of successful advocacy for physicians in the legislative, legal and regulatory arenas. By serving the medical profession, the FMA makes it easier for doctors to deliver high-quality care that keeps Floridians healthy. No matter how complex Florida’s health care environment becomes, our mission — Helping Physicians Practice Medicine — will never change. Learn more about the FMA at www.FLmedical.org or by calling (850) 224-6496.


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ...

PHOTO: Matt May Photography

S P O RT S

A combination of fan support and political clout could give the Tampa Bay Rowdies a push into Major League Soccer.

Major League Soccer is ready to blow up in Florida. Or is it? BY KARTIK KRISHNAIYER

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ajor League Soccer (MLS) will expand from 24 teams to 28 teams in the next few years, with teams 25 and 26 being announced later this year and teams 27 and 28 being announced in late 2018. But the league has had a rocky road in the state of Florida historically. Why? Short answer: The top soccer league in the United States hasn’t always had the local political support needed to make a go. When the league began play in 1996, a Tampa team called the Mutiny was among the inaugural class of clubs. Two years later the league expanded to Fort Lauderdale with a team called the Miami Fusion. Financially, the league was having a difficult time and the lack of political support or interest in the state of Florida, as well as in the two locales with teams — Hillsborough and Broward counties — meant MLS allowed two teams in the state to fold in late 2001. FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 29


PHOTO: Matt May Photography

In the more than 20-year history of the league, only three clubs have folded. Even though a pro sports club in Broward County brought Broward County some prestige, local officials did little, if anything, to facilitate the process. This came just three years after the county gave Florida Panthers owner Wayne Huizenga, a leading Broward resident, a sweetheart deal to relocate the NHL team from Miami. Hillsborough County had just finished building the Ice Palace for the Lightning and making sure the Bucs didn’t move. The appetite for public funding, or even public support, for an adolescent sport was minimal. The lack of political and community support dogged Florida, a factor exemplified as the Glazer family and John W. Henry, both based in the state, choose to spend hundreds of millions to invest in soccer in England rather than here at home. But as MLS has grown to have more of a national footprint, interest in Florida has grown in the league and the potential economic and “prestige” benefits it can produce. Soccer’s profile has grown in the state partly due to events like the International Champions Cup, which has repeatedly brought loads of tourists to watch games in the state and demonstrated the economic benefits of having high-level competition in a global sport permanently anchored in this state. The other major shift in political attitudes towards MLS have come from the success of Orlando City SC. As a club competing in the third division in 2012 and 2013, management 30 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

cultivated Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs and Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer and convinced them how an MLS team could help the city and county’s economy while growing the area’s stature and prestige. Orlando City SC has proven to be an unparalleled Florida success story, which never would have been possible without the political support the club built before moving the country’s top soccer league. Currently, Tampa Bay Rowdies owner Bill Edwards is seeking a move up to MLS. Edwards has done everything right politically in St. Petersburg. From tapping former Mayor Rick Baker as a point person for the bid, to making it abundantly clear to commissioners and community leaders of the benefits of an MLS team playing in a redeveloped Al Lang Stadium downtown, Edwards has played the political game perfectly to this point. The Rowdies are in good position to grab one of the four open slots that will be awarded in the next two years. Edwards’ club currently plays in the second-division United Soccer League (USL). St. Petersburg has recognized and understood the opportunity presented by MLS. Bringing a top-level team in the world’s biggest sport to your city is a potential boon for business, especially internationally. Being in MLS would no doubt elevate St. Petersburg on the map of major American cities in global eyes. Some outsiders complain Tampa would represent a better venue for a new MLS club, but political support on the Hillsborough side

of the bay for soccer ventures has never been as strong as what St. Petersburg is putting forward today. Meantime, down the road in Miami, the story is different. Essentially gifted a return to MLS since early 2014 — when David Beckham announced his plans to place a team in Miami after a long courtship — elements in the city and county’s political leadership have been slow to embrace the idea. Unlike Orlando and now St. Petersburg which have to compete against other cities’ bids, Miami had a place held in the league for three and a half years without opposition. Beckham found political support lacking for his desired waterfront locale, which — ironically — is similar to what Edwards can deliver to MLS in St. Petersburg. He then found acquiring land a bureaucratic nightmare and eventually settled on a parcel of land in Overtown, where political support is stronger for a stadium and a team. But it represents far less of a “destination” for fans than originally envisioned or what St. Petersburg can deliver. As of this writing, Miami still hasn’t secured its “free ticket” for a new MLS team. The politics of community support is what drives MLS expansion — and ultimately success once in the league. Right now, St. Petersburg has mastered a game that Orlando perfected in its move to MLS. For Miami, the rockier road might lead to a league presence in the end, but only time will tell.


the Political

Aficionado’s  Guide to ... MUSIC

Let’s hear it for the ladies A girl power playlist BY KATI SCHARDL

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lthough the music business has long been a male-dominated field, that hasn’t stopped women from raising their voices in song to express their power and positivity. Across the years and spanning the genres, the ladies have used popular music as a bully pulpit and in the process have ruled not only the airwaves but the charts, proving girl power is as profitable as it is inspiring. To celebrate International Day of the Girl in 2015, then-First Lady Michelle Obama released a Spotify playlist chock full of girl-power anthems. For our “Women Rule” issue, INFLUENCE Magazine figured we’d do the same, because every journey to empowerment deserves a soundtrack. Here’s a Top 10 list of tunes designed to rouse your inner riot grrrl. Feel free to add your own woman-power favorites.

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“I WILL SURVIVE” – GLORIA GAYNOR

Released in October 1978, this disco anthem has been packing dance floors and uplifting women (and the gay community) ever since. Singing, “I’ve got my life to live, and all my love to give, and I’ll survive, I will survive,” Gaynor is every woman who rises from the ashes of heartbreak stronger, wiser, and more determined.

“SISTERS ARE DOIN’ IT FOR THEMSELVES” – EURYTHMICS WITH ARETHA FRANKLIN

Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart of the Eurythmics originally intended to record their 1985 feminist anthem with musical force of nature Tina Turner, but she was unavailable, so they asked Franklin. Now it’s hard to imagine anyone other than the Queen of Soul singing, “Sisters are doing it for themselves, standin’ on their own two feet, and ringin’ on their own bells.”

“SOMETIMES IT TAKES BALLS TO BE A WOMAN” – ELIZABETH COOK

“Sometimes looks can be deceiving, when you’re quietly over-achieving,” Cook sings in her slyly witty but dead-serious 2007 country anthem. “Look at Dolly and Loretta, they’re still living it to the letter,” she sings. And so is Cook, a Florida gal who played this tune for a small but enthusiastic crowd at Side Bar Theatre when she came through Tallahassee earlier this year.

Better Than Ever 44 Years and Counting

“ROAR” – KATY PERRY

Who can forget the eye-popping 2015 Super Bowl XLIX halftime show spectacle of pop princess Perry riding onto the football field atop a massive mechanical golden lion and singing, “I am a champion, and you’re gonna hear me roar, louder, louder than a lion”? “Roar” is a girl-power anthem for all generations.

“I AM WOMAN” – HELEN REDDY

Speaking of roaring . . . Australian-American singer Reddy delivered a defiant and prescient anthem of female empowerment in 1971 for the burgeoning women’s liberation movement. More than four decades later, we’re still roaring in numbers too big to ignore.

“REBEL GIRL” – BIKINI KILL

The quintessential riot grrrl anthem was released in 1993 and was produced by rock goddess Joan Jett, who also played guitar and sang backup vocals on the single. The ode to feminist solidarity was reportedly inspired by noted feminist artist Juliana Luecking.

“LITTLE QUEEN” – HEART

The Wilson sisters — singer Ann and guitarist Nancy — were on the rise in the late ’70s when they released the album “Little Queen,” with its title song strutting the female rock star stuff as boldly as any hit by Led Zeppelin (Heart’s male rock god heroes).

“GLORIA” – PATTI SMITH

The High Priestess of Punk melded her poem “Oath” to the rock ’n’ roll chestnut “Gloria” and made it into an incendiary rager on her seminal 1975 album “Horses.” Talk about reclaiming — and owning — an ode to female pulchritude!

“RESPECT” – ARETHA FRANKLIN

Franklin took Otis Redding’s hit and jump-started her career with a sassy and triumphant reading of it for her iconic 1967 single. As Rolling Stone magazine said, “Franklin wasn’t asking for anything. She sang from higher ground: a woman calling an end to the exhaustion and sacrifice of a raw deal with scorching sexual authority. In short, if you want some, you will earn it.” Let me hear you say “Amen!”

“9 TO 5” – DOLLY PARTON

Andrewsdowntown.com

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“They use your mind, and you never get the credit, it’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it,” the country queen sang on her 1980 hit. But you can’t keep a good woman down, especially one as potent and powerful as Parton. Can you relate?


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Josh Cooper

In the Kitchen with ...

MAKE ‘CUPCAKE’ CHICKEN FOR A TAILGATE SHOWSTOPPER His team won at the Memphis World Championship Barbecue Cooking Contest this year and he played college ball at Furman University. So it’s a sure bet Josh Cooper knows a thing or two about tailgating. And, Cooper says, it’s not the meat, or the sides, or the type of grill you bring to the stadium that spells tailgating success. The difference between a fun, stress-free barbecue and a group of unhappy campers waiting for food to come off the grill 10 minutes before kickoff boils down to two P’s — pre-preparation and planning. “The best tailgates are the ones that are the best planned and do a lot of pre-prep at home,” he says. “Have a list of all the stuff you want to take, because inevitably you’re going to get there and you’re going to forget tongs or you’re not going to have charcoal. Literally, I have a spreadsheet of everything I need. If you’re just going through it in your mind, you’re going to forget Chef Josh Cooper cooks barbecued chicken, half the stuff every time.” ribs and brisket for a group of lobbyist Part of that planning also means creating a timeline. “Determine when you want to get there. friends in Jefferson County, Florida How much time do you need to set up? When are you getting the coals going? You’ve got to plan all this out,” he advises. Prepping food at home can keep you from being stuck grillin’ all afternoon while your friends are chillin’. “For instance, if you’re going to do jalapeno poppers as an appetizer, cut all your jalapenos, stuff ‘em, wrap ‘em in bacon, put ‘em in a pan, wrap it with cellophane and then when you get to the tailgate all you have to do is put ‘em on the grill and they’re ready to go,” Cooper says. “If you’re going to make burgers, make all your burgers ahead of time put ‘em in a pan and wrap ‘em up so when you get there all you’re doing is pulling them out and putting them on the grill. You save a lot of time that way.” Better yet, don’t feel the need to create every last app and side dish — pick up some things from the store and stick them in a nice dish, he says. Sometimes, even with the best plans, something is going to go awry. His advice is to roll with it. “It’s pouring down rain, so we’re not going to have burgers today. Tell someone to stop and pick up fried chicken on the way because it’s just not going to work,” he says. “You’ve just got to be able to adjust.” So, if you’re inspired and strategizing your menu for an upcoming game, Cooper recommends a unique, crowd-pleasing meat — the chicken cupcake. The recipe, a chicken thigh cooked in a muffin tin, was created by legendary pit master Myron Mixon. Cooper “tweaked” the original recipe and actually beat Mixon with his own creation at a Tallahassee barbecue competition. “It’s a showstopper. It’s a chicken thigh that just looks completely different,” he says.

Cupcake Chicken INGREDIENTS 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs 1 bottle Parkay squeeze butter 1 bottle Italian dressing Your favorite chicken barbecue rub Your favorite barbecue sauce Apple jelly Honey WHAT YOU’LL NEED 2 extra-large cupcake tins (6 cupcakes each) Smoker or grill set to cook with indirect heat with applewood chunks 34 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

DIRECTIONS 1. Debone each chicken thigh by hand. Slide your thumb under the bone and remove the meat carefully against it. If any hard cartilage remains, cut it off with a sharp knife. Trim the thigh into a uniform rectangular size. 2. Marinate the thighs in the Italian dressing overnight, or a minimum of four hours. 3. Set your grill or smoker to cook between 225-250 degrees with wood chunks on the coals.  4. Put a tablespoon of squeeze butter into the cupcake tins. Season the back of the thigh with your favorite barbecue rub and place the thigh skin side down into the cupcake tin. Cook for 30-45 minutes, depending on whether your smoker is running near the low end or high end of the temperature. 5. After this time, the thighs will start to mold and set into the cupcake shape. Using a fork, carefully pop each cupcake chicken “cupcake” out of the mold and place skin side up on a rack on the grill. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the skin starts to get color. While the chicken is cooking, you can make your glaze — which consists of one part barbecue sauce, one part apple jelly, and one part honey — over medium-low heat to mix all the components. Once you have a decent color on the skin and the chicken reads roughly 165 internal temperature, glaze the chicken.  6. Let the glaze set as the internal temperature of the chicken rises to 175 degrees. Pull the chicken off the grill and let it rest for five minutes before serving.


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PHOTOS: Mark Wallheiser Photography


TOP CHEFS

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Top Chefs How women are cracking the kitchen’s ‘glass ceiling’ BY ROCHELLE KOFF

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omen are helping to transform the dining scene in Florida and across the country, but precious few get the recognition of their male counterparts. Why aren’t more female chefs at the top of the culinary world? There’s no simple answer.

“Isn’t it ridiculous that we’re still talking about this in the 21st century?” asked Kathleen Blake, who happens to be a fourtime James Beard Foundation nominee for the Best Chef category in the South. She’s also owner of The Rusty Spoon in Orlando and a mother of four. Hardly a slacker. Female chefs “are not good at self-promotion,” said Blake. “We’re working hard and cooking and not tooting our horns.” To toot her horn, we’ll tell you Blake has been chosen as one of 21 women chefs and owners nationwide for the inaugural James Beard Foundation’s Entrepreneurial Leadership Program along with another Florida chef, Meredith Corey-Disch, pastry chef and owner of Community Loaves in Jacksonville. “I came to this from the food angle, not the business angle,” said Corey-Disch. “As you do well and your business grows, it gets more complicated.’ The program is certainly a step in the right direction. When announcing the one-week, intensive entrepeneurship program, Susan Ungaro, president of the James Beard Foundation, relayed a discouraging statistic: “Although women make up 50 percent of culinary school graduates, only 19 percent of executive chefs are female, and even fewer own restaurants.”

Women chefs and restaurateurs said there are many challenges: a gender pay gap, being taken seriously by banks and investors, the culture of the kitchen, and family concerns — including child care and demanding schedules that make it discouraging for moms or moms-to-be. “When our kids were little, my husband and I had to work opposite shifts,” said Blake. “I always wanted a big family and I always wanted to be a chef so I knew I would have to figure it out.” Having a cooperative spouse and female bosses helps, but many women don’t have those advantages. Malka Espinel, a pastry chef and teacher at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, said the schedule in a professional kitchen, with late hours and rare free weekends, is grueling for many moms.

“You don’t get sick days for yourself in a restaurant, let alone your child,” he said. “Going home for a sick child could get you fired in some restaurant kitchens.” The paradox that has developed in the culinary world is that cooking has been considered “women’s work” when it’s in the home and a man’s domain in the professional world. “One of the early approaches to professionalizing cooking was to separate it from domestic home cooking,” said Davis. “Women are great cooks. That’s not the issue.” Despite the lack of women winning top James Beard top honors, Davis sees an upward trajectory for female chefs. “I think we’re in a moment of transition,” he said. “We know more rising star nominees (for awards) are women.”

“Woman want to be with their kids and be part of their lives,” she said. “That’s one of the toughest parts.”

To help women starting out, the James Beard Foundation also runs a Women in Culinary Leadership mentorship program.

In researching her book, “Taking the Heat”, Deborah Harris, a sociology professor at Texas State University, found some women left the professional kitchen not because of discrimination or mistreatment, “but because female chefs found it impossible to balance the competing demands of having a family and heading a restaurant.”

But some gender gap issues still stem from public attitudes, not the industry, chefs said.

Addressing these issues is essential for the industry, said James Beard Foundation Executive Vice President Mitchell Davis, noting the need to creatively look at varied solutions, including the option of adding child care at a restaurant.

“There are five people in the kitchen and four are women, but diners will come up to the window, look right at the man and say “Nice job, chef,’ ” said chef Lauren Macellaro, a co-owner of the Reading Room in St. Petersburg. “Or the guy delivering equipment will walk right past me and I’ll say ‘Are you looking for the person in charge? Well, that’s me.’ ”

Here’s a look at some of Florida’s most notable female chefs. FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 37


TOP CHEFS

KATHLEEN BLAKE

Chef/owner, The Rusty Spoon, Orlando Blake fell in love with cooking when she was growing up in Dyersville, Iowa, where the movie “Field of Dreams” was filmed. She was captivated by the magic that takes place, not on a ball field, but around the table on a Sunday afternoon. “Every Sunday, we would go to my grandmother’s house and she would prepare an early afternoon supper,” said Blake. “She would start early on Sunday morning and put so much care into everything. I love how everybody came around the table and no one was in a rush to get up.” At 17, Blake left Iowa to purue her culinary dreams in San Francisco, working where she could, sometimes for free, to gain experience. There were few women chefs in the 1980s, and it wasn’t easy breaking into male-dominated kitchens. “You had to really work hard and keep your mouth shut and pay attention,” said Blake. She remembers crying her first day cooking in the cafeteria at the former San Francisco Park Hyatt. “They gave me a uniform with a ruffled collar, and I said ‘Why can’t I dress like everyone else?’” meaning her male coworkers. Blake attended a culinary apprenticeship program and eventually landed a job cooking at famed Mediterranean restaurant Square One, where award-winning chef/owner Joyce Goldstein “took me under her wing and mentored me.” She and her husband, William Blake, who worked for Hyatt, moved around a lot, raising their four children along the way. Aside from Goldstein, Blake credits the support of several top women chefs in helping her gain success, including Nora Pouillon, who opened Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., the country’s first certified organic restaurant; and Melissa Kelly, the first two-time winner of the James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast. In 2003, Kelly turned to the Blakes to open Primo in Orlando at the JW Marriott Grande Lakes, where they created an organic garden. When the couple launched The Rusty Spoon in Orlando in 2011, one of their goals was to offer farm-to-table cuisine, before that was the hip trend in restaurants. “I try to remain as true as possible to local sourcing,” said Blake, who specializes in Mediterranean and Italian cuisine, which earned acclaim as a James Beard Foundation semifinalist in 2017, the fourth time she was nominated for the Best Chef South category. The recognition “definitely gives you confidence,” she said. “It makes you feel like all the hard work and not taking the easy way out has been worth it.” But she hasn’t forgotten her first culinary mission: “to share that great feeling we had on those Sundays when we were all together. The thoughtfulness of it, I loved that.”

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FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 39


TOP CHEFS

MEREDITH COREY-DISCH

“We got kicked out of that kitchen,” she said. Corey-Disch polished her skills and wound up with her own bakery and cafe.

Corey-Disch runs the kind of bakery we all wish we had in our neighborhoods.

Pregnant with her first child, she has been training her staff so that she doesn’t have to be on the premises all the time. “I feel amazingly lucky. So many women have to choose.”

Chef/owner, Community Loaves, Jacksonville

Community Loaves is located in Jacksonville’s historic Murray Hill neighborhood, turning out organic sourdough breads and fresh pastries. Corey-Disch and her 11 employees make cinnamon bun croissants with orange zest, fresh fruit tarts, quiche with farm-sourced veggies and even bagels with wild smoked salmon and capers. Corey-Disch made her first pie as a teen from a recipe in a Martha Stewart cookbook, but she learned the intracies of making sourdough bread working on a “magical” homestead in the English countryside as a part of a program called Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. When she moved back home to Jacksonville, she teamed up with a young woman who was baking in a movie theater.

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She has no desire to give up baking, a skill she cherishes. “Making bread is so intimidating and it’s crazy,” she said. “Once you get the hang of it, it’s so simple. Sourdough is flour and water and salt. Once someone shows you how, you put your hands on the dough and you see how it’s supposed to feel. I love having my hands on the dough and the skills that come with it. Baking bread is not one of those things that you can easily learn from a book.”


MALKA ESPINEL

pastry/private chef; teacher, International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale As a child growing up in Colombia, Espinel loved watching her grandmother bake traditional breads and sweets, like the cheese bread, pan de bono, and the caramel-like confection, dulce de leche. “I learned a lot from her, and my mom is also a great cook,” said Espinel, an award-winning pastry chef who now teaches at the International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. “We always had people around the house. I remember a lot of gatherings and a lot of food. It was always a big part of my life.” Espinel decided on a culinary career, graduating from the Cooking and Hospitality Institute of Chicago and later receiving a master’s degree in hospitality administration/management from Florida International University. “You now see more women in the kitchen,” said Espinel. “When I started, there weren’t as many. I think there were less problems for women working in pastry. It was harder on the savory side.” Espinel wound up working with some of South Florida’s best chefs, including acclaimed pastry chef Hedy Goldsmith, Mark Militello, Norman Van Aken, and Johnny Vinczencz. She was pastry chef at three of Vinczencz’s restaurants, including Johnny V’s, where she earned a 2008 StarChefs.com Rising Stars Award. She’s known for adding tropical flavors and fruits to her bold desserts. Espinel still works as a consulting and private chef, but as a teacher she sees the influence of culinary superstars on her students. “They all want to be rock stars,” said Espinel. “They think it’s more glamorous than it really is. They don’t understand the work someone has to put in before becoming a chef.”

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TOP CHEFS

CINDY HUTSON

Chef/owner Ortanique on the Mile, Coral Gables Zest, Miami, Jamaica Hutson first dazzled Miami diners more than two decades ago with her island-influenced Norma’s on the Beach, a humble spot that opened on Lincoln Road when the promenade was more funky than fabulous. The place was named for Norma Shirley, the “Julia Child of the Caribbean” and the mother of Hutson’s life partner. Hutson had never been a professional chef when she and Delius Shirley opened Norma’s on the Beach in 1994 and she was overwhelmed. “I cried every day for four months.” There weren’t many well-known female chefs in South Florida when Hutson came on the scene, but since she was the boss, if male staffers “gave me a hard time, I fired them,” she joked. But she did go through times “when I second-guessed myself around male chefs. It was me not having faith in me.” But Hutson’s confidence grew as fans and restaurant critics embraced her island-influenced “cuisine of the sun,” with clean, tropical flavors and seasonally driven ingredients, recipes she shared in her cookbook, “From the Tip of My Tongue.” After a few successful years in South Beach, Hutson and Shirley relocated to Coral Gables in 1997, opening Ortanique on the Mile. “Everyone said we were crazy” for leaving the beach, said Hutson. Now, along with Ortanique, the pair have launched newcomer Zest in downtown Miami’s Southeast Financial Center and in The Cliff hotel in Negril, Jamaica. Hutson is also working as a culinary consultant with the Miami Cancer Institute, creating healthful menus with her special touch. She and Shirley spend time traveling between South Florida and Jamaica, a lifestyle Hutson never would have predicted when she was a kid in New Jersey taking over the kitchen because her mother hated cooking. She would watch “The Galloping Gourmet” with Graham Kerr and ask her mom to buy the ingredients. She helped her dad grill and accompanied her grandfather to the docks in the early morning hours to buy fish, shrimp, and scallops from the boats. As a young woman, she worked with handicapped children as part of a nursing program but when she moved to Miami she got her captain’s license for sport fishing and eventually got her own charter boat. Along the way to her culinary career, she sold gourmet food products from Jamaica, got married, had three children, and got divorced before she met Shirley and forged a new path. “I always cared about cooking but I never thought about being a chef,” said Hutson. “It was the men in my life who inspired me to cook.” 42 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


LAUREN MACELLARO

Reading Room, St. Petersburg Macellaro’s love of cooking is rooted in her upbringing in Queens and New Jersey, where she grew up eating home-cooked Italian food with produce from family gardens, slow-cooked tomato sauces, warm breads, and winemaking in the basement. “My mom had a garden, my uncle had a garden,” said Macellaro, who with life partner Jessika Palombo opened the contemporary Reading Room in St. Petersburg in February. “I lived off of garden food, so I can’t go and get a Canadian hothouse tomato and be happy.” She and her team aim to make everything in-house, get what they can from their on-site 3,500-square-foot garden and source foods locally when possible. “There’s been this close relationship between chefs and farmers, predominately in big cities and Europe but now it’s taking root everywhere,” said Marcellaro. “From my background, that’s how a restaurant always was. In New York, chefs would go to Union Square Market and see the produce. That’s what was on the menu.” Marellaro initially learned the restaurant business from New York chefs. She attended the Institute of Culinary Education in the city and her first real cooking job was with celebrated Big Apple chefs Floyd Cardoz and Danny Meyer at Indian-inspired Tabla. Macellaro later worked for Brian Canipelli, the chef/owner of Cucina 24 in Ashville, N.C. and Rooster & the Till in Tampa, both James Beard Foundation nominees. She brings a long-held commitment to well-sourced ingredients to her 50-seat Reading Room. “We try to find things that grow really well that we can keep on the menu for a small amount of time,” said Marellaro. “My general philosophy on food is to be as honest as possible with ingredients.” She likes offering dishes with a surprise or two, unusual ingredients usually from her garden, like iceplant lettuce (which actually is not lettuce, but a succulent). “It’s super exciting,” said Macellaro. “It grew really well here and nobody had it. It’s a really cool, rare ingredient.” The menu at Reading Room changes every four weeks but wood-roasted meats and vegetables and fresh pasta are among the hits along with house-made breads and butter. “I never thought in my life I’d be known for making butter, but people tell me ‘If you take that butter off the menu we’re going to freak out,’ ” she quipped. Home-cooked bread is also her favorite food. “There’s nothing like a loaf of bread that was baked that morning and is still oven warm,” she mused. “Then you just put on some nice butter, flaky salt and have a glass of wine. It’s the best.”

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TOP CHEFS

SHACAFRICA ‘CHEF SHAC’ SIMMONS

Owner, Chef Shac LLC and Catering, Tallahassee When Simmons, known simply as Chef Shac, walked onto the set of the Food Network’s “Chopped” show as a contestant, she had an “overwhelming sense of God.” “I felt like I was meant to be there,” said the chef, who beat three challengers to win the competition and $10,000. The show filmed in March and aired in June, long months to keep a secret. “Everyone was trying to guess.” While winning “has been life-changing,” Simmons said the contest meant more than just clinching the title. “For me, it was bigger than that,” she said. “It was about Tallahassee, it was about my community, about women and about women of color out there doing their work, doing what they love and they’re still struggling. They show up with a smile and a strong face … but any day can break you down.” Simmons could easily be talking about herself. Her road to “Chopped” was marked by uneasy times as she struggled through divorce, losing jobs, and homelessness. In the last nine years, she’s worked hard to overcome adversity, building her own culinary company, advocating for community causes and finally gaining recognition (including a key to the city). An affable woman with an

infectious smile, Simmons has pushed for better nutrition for children and partnered with numerous organizations. Her involvement in Whole Child Leon eventually led to her invitation to compete in “Chopped.” Simmons is one of the creators behind the development of KitchenShare, a commercial kitchen and food business incubator to be housed at Frenchtown Heritage Hub. She sees food as a way to empowerment for women. It was eventually her salvation. Unsure of her cooking abilities, she attended Culinard in Birmingham, Ala. at the suggestion of her ex-husband. “I didn’t think I was good enough to be a chef,” said Simmons. “But I loved it.” After graduation, she was a chef at country clubs, hotels, and other venues. But after getting divorced and losing her job, “things went down from there.” Her three children stayed with their dad and for a time, Simmons lived in her car and then a hotel. She was able to get some catering 44 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

jobs, preparing food on the two-burner stove in her hotel room. In 2008, her father got Simmons a one-way ticket to Tallahassee to attend the funeral of her uncle in Thomasville, and she stayed, grateful to now have her children nearby — her two oldest daughters attend Tallahassee Community College and her son’s at Florida A&M University. Simmons now runs her own catering and culinary business with Kirtrecia Washington (Chef K). Her favorite style of cooking is “Southern” with Caribbean influences. One of her signature dishes is smoked gouda grits jambalaya with cornmeal from Bumpy Road Farm. It was her Bahamian grandfather who started teaching Simmons to cook. Born in Delray Beach, she was 5 when he showed her how to fry and poach eggs. “He pulled a chair to the stove and said ‘I’ll show you how to do this.’ ” Winning “Chopped” has brought Simmons opportunities that could reach beyond Tallahassee, but she wants “to make a greater impact at home. Food is a canvas and I want to build on it.”


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Washington D.C. Office

122 S. Calhoun Street Tallahassee, FL 32301

11111 Santa Monica Blvd, Suite 700 Los Angeles, CA 90025

717 D Street, N.W., Suite 310 Washington D.C. 20004

Attorney Adve r tising

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Briefings from the Rotunda

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

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Louis Betz celebrates a quarter century of influence

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ouis Betz, who’s been a lobbyist for close to 25 years, loves his job — and it shows. “Lobbyists are strategists,” said the 54-year-old Tampa native, in an interview at a Tampa Village Inn. “I love that part of the business. I just think that’s the coolest part, when you develop a strategy and implement it, and sitting back and watching it work.” Betz, who doesn’t often speak to reporters, shifted from political consulting to lobbying in the early 1990s. He’s perhaps best known now for representing taxi companies that fought against Uber and Lyft in Hillsborough County. But he may be best known in the Tampa Bay area for being outed as the lobbyist who accompanied former County Commissioner Jim Norman to Las Vegas in October 1999, a sensational story broken by the Tampa Bay Times. Nearly 18 years later, Betz insists the Times got it wrong. He and Norman did not travel to Vegas together, but happened to be in the same place at the same time. When Norman heard he was in town, he invited him over to watch Sunday football. Betz now says it was one of the best things to happen to his career. After a Times’ follow-up that focused less on Norman and more about him, “I got tons of clients … Everybody thought I was the guy going on trips with the commissioners. My phone never stopped ringing.” Lately, he’s thrilled that he was able to help one of his favorite organizations, Buddy Baseball, an area recreational league for teen boys and girls with special needs. “We had a lot of wins for clients,” he says of the 2017 Legislative Session. But helping to get state and county funding for the baseball program was “what made me feel great,” he added. “When the governor didn’t veto that, it made my day.”


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PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

Governors Club opens ‘front porch’

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igar-loving members of the Governors Club, rejoice: The “front porch” is here. Despite years of delays, the outdoor patio in front of the private club at Adams Street and College Avenue opened unofficially in June for cocktails and dining. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was set for Aug. 26. The patio, which has eight outdoor tables under the existing magnolia tree, had been hung up in permitting with the City of Tallahassee. The Club has long been a refuge for lawyers, lobbyists, and lawmakers, especially during committee weeks and legislative sessions.

But a smoke-free happy hour was instituted in the club’s firstfloor lounge, which had been beset with clouds of offending stogie smoke that sent some patrons fleeing. Smoking is now prohibited in the club, except on the second-floor balcony, which hosts occasional cigar dinners, and in the lounge after 7 p.m. Now, members and their guests can feel free to light up those Montecristos in the mornings and afternoons — outside, of course.

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Briefings from the Rotunda

Mike Anway joins PhRMA 48 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

Michael Anway, a former policy advisor to Gov. Rick Scott, is now regional senior director of state advocacy with the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA), based in Tallahassee. In this role, Anway is responsible for developing and implementing state legislative strategies to support the value of biopharmaceutical innovation, patient access to medicines, and other industry priorities in Florida, Arkansas, and Alabama. “I have a passion for this industry and am excited to return to PhRMA and work at the state level with our policymakers, patients, physicians, and other innovative partners that

work together every day to ensure the strongest possible advocacy for patients and innovation,” he said in a statement. Anway was previously senior policy advisor at the Holland & Knight law firm. There, he advised healthcare industry clients on their government relations strategies. Before Holland & Knight, he served as the head of Gov. Scott’s Health and Human Services Unit in the Office of Policy and Budget, overseeing six state agencies that represent 42 percent of the total state budget. Anway has a law degree from the University of Kansas School of Law.


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Briefings from the Rotunda

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

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From left, John Wayne Smith, William J. Peebles and Ryan E. Matthews with Peebles, Smith & Matthews lobbying firm in Tallahassee, Florida.

DEP alum joins Peebles and Smith

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obbyist Bill Peebles says he always knew Ryan Matthews was going to “be somebody.” “I’ve been after him since he got there,” referring to Matthews’ tenure at the Department of Environmental Protec-

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tion, where he ultimately served as interim secretary. “He was somebody we wanted. Talented, hard working.” Finally, he got him. After Matthews was passed over to permanently replace departing DEP Sec-

retary Jon Steverson, Peebles hired him this summer for his local government lobbying firm — even adding Matthews’ name to the shingle. Now Peebles, Smith & Matthews, the firm continues its focus on municipal


issues, with Matthews drilling down into growth management and environmental matters for clients. Matthews, son of legendary influencer Frank Matthews who died earlier this year (see page 54), is an attorney with a postgraduate legal degree in environmental law. (As a former state official, he won’t be able to lobby his old agency for two years.) Before temporarily heading the agency, he was deputy secretary for Regulatory Programs, where he oversaw and directed the air, water, and waste regulatory programs in Tallahassee and across the state. “I consider myself a hybrid,” he said. In addition to representing local governments, the firm also counts the Florida League of Cities (where Matthews also worked), the Florida Municipal Electric Association, and Florida Redevelopment Association as clients. “Bill and I stayed in contact and we had had a conversation or two about my future and what I wanted to do,” Matthews said. His government experience is a plus working with the elected officials who represent cities, and counties’ concerns: “He understands our clientele,” Peebles said. That includes when to say “no.” “It doesn’t serve the clients’ best interests if what you’re promising there’s no chance on delivering,” Matthews said. Or, as Peebles put it, “If you know the answer is ‘no’ and you don’t tell the client, you’re stealing their money.” And when you work for governments, “you’re stealing public money. We’re pretty aware of that around here. ... We are diligent they get value for that.” Take public money for building stadiums, now disfavored by lawmakers and constituents alike. “We’re seeing a move more toward public-private partnerships,” said firm principal John W. Smith, a 25-year veteran and former legislative director for the Florida Association of Counties (FAC). “Some of that is political and some from the business side of that world.” Matthews’ addition may be the last for a while — or maybe not. “I don’t know that we necessarily have a plan for growth,” Smith said. “I think our growth is driven by our mission: To be the best at what we do.” Added Peebles: “We have a growth strategy of being as big as we need to be to serve the clients who come to us … and there are more needs in local government every year.”

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Briefings from the Rotunda

Comings and goings in the Capitol Press Corps 52 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

Changes have been afoot in the hot stove league that is the Capitol Press Corps: — The Tampa Bay Times lost Tallahassee reporters Jeremy Wallace and Michael Auslen, the former to the Austin bureau of the Houston Chronicle and the latter to a master’s program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. At press time, those positions were still unfilled. — The News Service of Florida’s Brandon Larrabee decamped to Virginia, where he is attending law school at the University of Richmond. — Jessica Bakeman, who covered education policy for POLITICO Florida, has headed to South Florida public broadcaster WLRN. Taking over her slot is Daniel Ducassi, shifting from his “regulated industries” beat, including medical marijuana and gambling. — Florida Politics alumna Christine Sexton, who had covered health care policy for POLITICO Florida, moved to the News Service to cover the same beat. The Naples Daily News’ Alexandra Glorioso, who covered politics for the daily, is taking over Sexton’s beat at POLITICO. — Close to press time, Kristen Clark, who specialized in education coverage from Tallahassee for The Miami Herald, announced on Twitter she was leaving the paper because her husband, Ryan, had gotten a job covering Washington Huskies football for the Tacoma News Tribune. — And, of course, Extensive Enterprises Media’s own Jenna Buzzacco-Foerster, who wrote for FloridaPolitics.com, INFLUENCE magazine and managed the company’s many email products, left the fold in August to become a policy analyst for the Greater Naples Chamber of Commerce.


RFB H. Lee Moffitt out on his own

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othing like starting out your own business — at age 75. H. Lee Moffitt withdrew from Tampa’s Adams and Reese law firm and started his own firm this summer, H. Lee Moffitt P.A., also in Tampa, according to lobbying registration records. The former House Speaker (1982-84) did not respond to requests for comment on his move. Moffitt, who served in the Legislature 1974-84 as a Dem-

ocrat, shepherded a $600,000 appropriation for planning and $3.5 million in start-up funds in 1981 for the Tampa-based cancer center and research institute that now bears his name. He also drafted a bill earmarking $70 million from a state cigarette tax for construction of the center, which opened to patients in October 1986. Moffitt has represented AAA Auto Club South and AutoNation, among others.

TOP 10 BE ST KE P T SE CR E T S OF A VAL U E D L OB B Y IN G PAR T N E R

FEARLESS FORTITUDE An instinctive and innate desire to achieve victory that escalates intensely when confronted with seemingly insurmountable odds.

Vaulting from #25 to #10” in a single quarter – FloridaPolitics.com

And there’s no end in sight. Our Tallahassee office doubled in size this year creating a venerable Who’s Who List of former state administrative department heads, governors’ chiefs of staff, agency heads and even presidential advisors. We counsel and lobby for clients in every major Florida city as well as nationally.

bipc.com/Government-Relations F O RT L A U D E R D A L E | F O RT M Y E R S | J A C K S O N V I L L E | M I A M I | TA L L A H A S S E E | TA M PA Califor nia | Colorado | Delaware | Florida | New Jersey | New York | North Carolina | Pennsylvania | Virginia | Washingto n, D C

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Briefings from the Rotunda

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

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RFB Farewell to a ‘gentle giant of The Process’ Frank E. Matthews, a lawyer-lobbyist with Tallahassee’s Hopping Green & Sams firm, died July 6 in Tampa after battling leukemia. He was 61. The firm posted a statement on its website that said, in part, “To us, Frank was a partner in the best sense of the word, in good times and bad. He was always there when any of us needed him. “We will especially remember his impish sense of humor which he shared so generously. Frank lit up every room he entered and brought joy to every life he touched.” Sen. Jack Latvala said he had known Matthews since first coming to Tallahassee as an elected official in 1994. “We were often on different sides of issues; he represented developers and others who did things to the environment that I sometimes didn’t like,” the Clearwater Republican said. “But I had tremendous respect for his intelligence and the fact he was a very effective advocate.” “Frank loved The Process”, recalled recently appointed Florida CFO Jimmy Patronis. “During my time in the House, I remember Frank as a connector; he had the ability to bring opponents to the table and navigate the tough issues.” Former Senate President Ken Pruitt, who spent nearly two decades in the Legislature, called Matthews a “gentle giant of The Process.” “He had a wealth of knowledge and you could count on whatever he said,” said Pruitt, also a Republican and recently retired as St. Lucie County Property Appraiser. Born in Troy, New York, Matthews graduated from the University of Rochester and University of Miami Law School. After law school, he moved to Tallahassee to become an environmental law attorney with Hopping Green & Sams, practicing there for 36 years. Matthews is survived by his wife of 39 years, Anne, whom he first started dating at age 13. He is also survived by his son, Ryan, of Tallahassee, and wife Alyssa, two grandchildren, Emmy and Elliot; daughter Jaimie Matthews Francis of Washington, D.C. and her husband David; and extended family in Florida, New York, and elsewhere. “His fierce love of family came through with a one-of-a-kind flair that continues to make Frank’s family so proud of how he approached every facet of his life, living it to the very fullest,” said his obituary in the Tallahassee Democrat.

“He had a wealth of knowledge and you could count on whatever he said.” – Ken Pruitt

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Research you can rely on, counsel you can trust.

“Steve Vancore produces some of the state’s best polls.” Marc Caputo, Politico

“In this writer’s estimation, Vancore is inarguably one of the Top 5 brightest minds in Florida politics.” Peter Schorsch, St. Petersblog

clearview-research.com


FOURTH FLOOR>FILES A HEART FOR ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION Significant other? Children? Married to Tony Carvajal, we have one son, 13. He is Antonio the 8th! In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I help clients maneuver an ever-changing legislative process to attain the goals we set out. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I believe in personal freedom and less government intrusion. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? I have had several groups/ folks ask if I could help with a project during session. Anything from Florida State University to organ and tissue donation. Three favorite charities? Children’s Home Society and the Alzheimer’s Project — I have served on both of their boards — and The Humane Society. We have two rescues, a dog and a cat! Any last-day-of-Session traditions? I will usually take a seat at the bar at Avenue with friends and decompress from the last 60 or more days of Session!

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

Allison Carvajal

What are you most looking forward to during the Legislative Session? Day 61 and NO Special Session! If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, who would it be? I am very happy with my client list. I have represented many of these groups for more than 20 years and many have become great friends. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Several years ago I represented an organ donation program, LifeQuest. My father was a heart transplant recipient in 1986 and the issues were something that I was very familiar with. We kept a com-

pany from changing the laws to allow them to relax some of the restrictions on tissue donation. It could have been terrible for recipients! I keep up with the transplant legislation still today! Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? I don’t own a pair of Gucci Loafers. I wear Cole Haan and Donald Plinar; it’s all about comfort! Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? It was Lucy Morgan. If you had a conversation with her you knew it never went any further. Haven’t had a need to cultivate a relationship with another one! Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes … I read Sayfie and the News Service of Florida every day. What swear word do you use most often? I have been told that I have a potty mouth, therefore, I don’t discriminate. I think the F-bomb is used often though! What is your most treasured possession? Besides my family, I have a note that my father mailed to me in college with money paper-clipped to it. It is framed and on my dresser. The best hotel in Florida is? The Vinoy, for sentimental reasons I’m sure! You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Richard Corcoran, Jeb Bush, Mac Stipanovich, and Jack Latvala. Would love to hear them talk about what happened to the RPOF! Favorite movie. “The Big Chill.” When you pig out, what do you eat? I love a good medium-rare steak, a baked potato, and a salad with blue cheese dressing! If I could have dinner with a historical figure, who would it be? Margaret Thatcher. She didn’t take shit from the boys!

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Empowering communities

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

What helps make a strong community? Educational and professional opportunities, help for those in need, and the responsible use of technology.

Š 2017 AT&T Intellectual Property. All rights reserved.


FOURTH FLOOR>FILES ADVOCATING FOR TOURISM, AND A PASSION FOR HORSES Significant other? Children? Grand kids? Happily married to Walt Dover for 39 years. Blessed with three amazing children: Kevin, Ashley, and Brittany and three grandchildren Cole, Grayton, and Aubrey. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I’m proud to represent Florida’s premier nonprofit hospitality industry trade association that represents more than 10,000 members across the state, including hotels, restaurants, theme parks, and attractions. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I support policies and incentives that create job growth, support businesses, and enhance the quality of life for all Floridians. If you have one, what is your motto? Never burn a bridge. The world is a much smaller place than you think. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? Recently, I was fortunate to be elected as the chair of the Florida Agricultural Center & Horse Park. I’ve served on the board since its inception and it has allowed me to combine my two passions — equines and promoting tourism.

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

Carol B. Dover

our lawmakers about the unique opportunities our industry provides, and the 1.4 million jobs it supports, and discuss ways to continue to make Florida a business-friendly state to live, work, and play. Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Most recently, I am proud of how the industry came together to save the critical marketing efforts of VISIT FLORIDA and preserved the state’s investment to keep Florida competitive. FRLA also played an instrumental role in passing legislation that protects a business from frivolous ADA lawsuits and provides Florida businesses with a resource to correct deficiencies and to efficiently resolve disputes. Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? Loafers aren’t exactly my style and honestly, I prefer sneakers or my riding boots over heels any day. But I do own a Gucci purse. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Wait … is this off the record? Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes … Tallahassee Democrat, Sayfie Review, and Lobbytools.

Three favorite charities? Giving back to your local community is a social responsibility that everyone should participate in. I support many charities, but some of my favorites include those dedicated to breast cancer research, the Ronald McDonald House, and of course, the FRLA Educational Foundation —which supports mentoring, training, and scholarships for students pursuing careers in the hospitality industry.

What swear word do you use most often? Shoot a monkey.

Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Every year, our office celebrates Sine Die with a Cinco de Mayo party. It’s important to hit pause after a hectic 60 days and celebrate all that we’ve accomplished together as a team. So, with the session starting in January we have to do Cinco de Marzo.

You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Gov. Rick Scott, Sen. Jack Latvala, Speaker Richard Corcoran, and Commissioner Adam Putnam.

What are you most looking forward to during the Legislative Session? Each session brings new challenges and opportunities. The hospitality industry is one of the most diverse and dynamic contributors to our state’s economy. At the end of the day, it’s about preserving and promoting Florida’s tourism industry. I look forward to continuing to educate

What is your most treasured possession? My wedding ring. This month is my 39th wedding anniversary and keeping a happy and balanced marriage in this process is not easy. The best hotel in Florida is … One at 100 percent occupancy!

Favorite movie. “Secretariat.” When you pig out, what do you eat? Chocolate. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Ronald Reagan

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FOURTH FLOOR>FILES Significant other? Children? Grandkids? I have to mention my niece. She started college in August; I’m so proud of her. In 25 words or less, explain what you do. I listen to the interests of some and attempt to cultivate those interests in others to advance change. Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I prefer rational to idealistic. If you have one, what is your motto? “My motivation is simple. I just like to see good things get done.” The words of Katie Boyd-Britt, a college mentor and now Chief of Staff to Alabama’s senior Sen. Richard Shelby. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? The Certification Board for Music Therapists. Three favorite charities. Grace Mission Episcopal Church, Make-A-Wish Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters. Any last-day-of-Session traditions? I find that I’m inevitably working diligently on a proactive bill or two. Watching those pass is my favorite last-day-of-Session tradition. What are you most looking forward to during the Legislative Session? Fewer layovers in Atlanta/Charlotte as I attempt to fly from Florida … to Florida. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … I adore mine. I don’t want anyone else’s. I love the overall book at Rutledge Ecenia; that’s part of the reason we brought our clients here recently.

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

Corrine Mixon

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? I don’t. I own heels and tennis shoes. So, if I show up to the Capitol donning an Anthropologie dress and Nike sneakers in year 2042, you’ll know it’s time for me to retire. Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Marc Caputo is sharp and accessible. Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes … The Tallahassee Democrat has been interesting recently. What swear word do you use most often? Daaaaum. What is your most treasured possession? A 1920s bungalow a couple blocks from the Capitol … once it’s finally finished being remodeled. The best hotel in Florida is … The Birchwood in downtown St. Pete and the newly remodeled JW Marriott on Marco Island. My room had a king-sized murphy bed. You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Kathy Mears, Laura Brock, Jose Oliva, and Travis Cummings. Favorite movie. “Love Actually.” When you pig out, what do you eat? Pulled pork, green beans, and mac-andcheese. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? “The 1 percent.”

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? Receiving the Florida Academy of Physician Assistants Lifetime Achievement Award for my work on their behalf during the 2016 Session.

DEDICATED TO SEEING ‘GOOD THINGS GET DONE’

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FOURTH FLOOR>FILES

Significant other? Children? Grandkids? Married to David Ramba with three kids, Megan (20), Harley (16), and Virginia Kate (2).

Who is your favorite Florida Capitol Press Corps reporter and why? Matt Dixon, because I’m pretty sure he is reporting from a bar watching the Packers.

In 25 words or less, explain what you do. Advocate for Florida’s 270,000 retail businesses at the Capitol and regulatory agencies in Florida and Georgia.

Other than SaintPetersBlog.com, your reading list includes … News Service of Florida, Fox News App, and anything James Miller sends me.

Without using the words Democrat, Independent or Republican, conservative or liberal, describe your political persuasion. I prefer elephants.

What swear word do you use most often? It rhymes with “duck.”

If you have one, what is your motto? Work hard, success will follow. During your career, have you had a favorite pro bono client? The Junior League Three favorite charities. March of Dimes. Ronald McDonald House. Does buying a lot of Girl Scout cookies count? Any last-day-of-Session traditions? Yes, one of my bills is almost always the last to pass. I’d be happy to break with that tradition. What are you most looking forward to during the 2017 Legislative Session? Ending early and enjoying spring break with the kids, in the snow. If you could have another lobbyist’s client list, it would be … Jon Johnson, then I’d get paid twice for representing FRF.

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

Melissa Joiner Ramba

Professional accomplishment of which you are most proud? The passage of a bill that allows pharmacists to prescribe naloxone, a drug that can save the life of someone who is experiencing an opioid overdose.

What is your most treasured possession? My grandmother’s ring. The best hotel in Florida is … Ritz-Naples so far, hearing that Four Seasons in Orlando is pretty fabulous. You’ve just learned that you will be hosting a morning talk show about Florida politics. Who are the first four guests you’d invite to appear? Given that we discuss it all the time, we might as well take it live …. Angela Dempsey, Sarah Busk, Melanie Becker, and Danielle Scoggins. Favorite movie “Footloose.” When you pig out, what do you eat? Sushi. If you could have dinner with a historical figure no longer living, who would it be? Jackie O.

REPRESENTING RETAIL UNTIL SESSION’S LAST DAY

Lobbyists are often accused of wearing Gucci loafers; do you own a pair of Gucci loafers? If not, why not? Nope, not my style.

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Photo: Phil Sears

{ insiders’ ADVICE

Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, shown here with Sen. Travis Hutson during the last days of the 2017 session, has a collaborative style reminiscent of former Senate leaders Gwen Margolis and Toni Jennings.

W Term limits: Keeping women out of legislative leadership? by michelle ubben

hen I went to work for Bob Crawford in 1988 as the first communications director of a Senate President, women seemed to be gaining momentum in the Florida Legislature. That year, 33 women held legislative seats, up from 17 just six years before. The next year, Florida rose to 25th among the states for the number of women senators — that’s higher than Florida ranks today. One year later, Gwen Margolis, who has said she was motivated to run by the failure of Congress to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, became Florida’s first female Senate President. And yet, more than 25 years later, the number of women holding seats in the Florida House and Senate remains steady at 41, unchanged since 2011. Despite making up 51 percent of Florida’s population, women constitute just one quarter of the Florida Legislature. Why? Multiple studies suggest the reason women are underrepresented in elected offices is not that they don’t win, but simply that they don’t run. Women are FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 69


{ insiders’ ADVICE “I tell the young women I mentor, those that are thinking about running for office, and my daughter and her friends, that they are strong, capable, and that they belong in whatever world they choose to work in.” – Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto less likely to have considered political office, and are 15 percent less likely to be recruited to run. But when they do get in a race, women are just as likely as men to win. Experts attribute this reluctance to run to a “confidence gap” — women’s tendency to doubt their qualifications and believe they need more time to be qualified and prepared. Men seem not to be so plagued with self-doubt. This second-guessing doesn’t just hold women back from elected office. It also may hold them back from climbing the ranks into leadership posts. Florida has never had a female House Speaker and only two Senate Presidents — Democrat Margolis and Republican Toni Jennings, who served two back-toback terms before becoming Florida’s Lieutenant Governor. Lobbyists and staffers both reflect that Margolis and Jennings earned their support through inclusion and collaboration, an approach many say also reflects the style of current-era powerhouse Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto. While some male leaders may succeed through bullying, successful female leaders win through positive relationships. “Women are working harder and smarter than ever, and I believe we see that in those who rise to leadership positions today,” said Benacquisto. “I tell the young women I mentor, those that are thinking about running for office, and my daughter and her friends, that they are strong, capable, and that they  belong  in whatever world they choose to work in.” Perhaps not coincidentally, no woman has climbed to the top rank in a legislative chamber since term limits were

imposed. Women, it seems, generally take time to focus on the job they were elected to do to and grow in political confidence over time before contemplating a play for the top spot — a process that tends to take longer than two fouryear terms allow. In contrast, men with leadership ambitions make moves to secure the top rank from Day 1. While women may not be nearing equity in representation or power, there are indications that, once elected, they are more than holding their own in effectiveness. In the 2017 legislative session, Republican women in the Florida Senate passed 46 percent of their bills, compared with a success rate of 28 percent by Republican men. And women pioneers continue to emerge — and set new records. A pair of young women — really young women — successively became the youngest representatives elected to the Florida House: Rep. Jennifer Sullivan, age 23, was followed two years later by Rep. Amber Mariano, 21, who bested Adam Putnam’s record to become the youngest person ever elected to the Florida House. “I think that being a public servant is more about doing what’s right for your community than having the best resume,” added Mariano. “We vote for people who we believe will get the job done and help move society forward. Women shouldn’t disqualify themselves because their resume isn’t as big as their passion to serve.” Women also effectively exert their influence where much of the actual work of the Florida Legislature gets done — in the ranks of legislative staffers. On that front, women are doing

quite well: Women represent 58 percent of all Florida legislative staff, including 56 percent of legislative analysts, 67 percent of senior attorneys, more than 80 percent of bill drafters, and 62 percent of legislative aides. This dominance of women in the ranks of legislative aides knows no political boundaries — an even 62 percent of legislative aides to both Democrats and Republicans are women. Perhaps more telling, there is no pay gap between male and female legislative professionals. For nearly all job categories and taking tenure into account, women are paid equivalently to their male counterparts — if not more. Haley Cutler, organizer of the upcoming Women Can Run conference, says Florida needs more women who are interested in the political process to set their sights on elected office, not just staff service. “We need more women to take the plunge. When our representative government is made up of elected leaders who are as diverse as our communities and nation, we all win,” Cutler said. “When policymaking is informed by diverse worldviews, opinions, life experiences, and approaches, we all win. When more women lead, we all win.” Michelle Lagos Ubben is President and partner of Sachs Media Group. She joined the firm after a 14-year career in state government, including stints leading communications for the Florida Senate, and the departments of Insurance, Agriculture and Consumer Services; Health and Rehabilitative Services; and Children and Families. She has an M.A. in Rhetoric from FSU and a B.A. in Journalism from UCF. 

“We vote for people who we believe will get the job done and help move society forward. Women shouldn’t disqualify themselves because their resume isn’t as big as their passion to serve.” – Rep. Amber Mariano 70 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


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{ insiders’ ADVICE

New rules don’t deter growth of political committees in Florida by noreen fenner

Photo: Mark Wallheiser

I

t’s no surprise political committees continue to gain popularity as we enter the fourth year under the new rules governing them. In 2013, the Florida Legislature revamped a large section of the Florida Election Code, abolishing the regulation-lax committees of continuous existence (CCEs) and elevating the lowly political committees. One of the most impactful changes of the 2013 legislation was to remove the $500 limitation on contributions to political committees. With this newly obtained ability to accept unlimited contributions, political committees became the preferred vehicle for contributions and for political messaging. In the nine-month period following the 2014 general election through July 2015, 111 new statewide political committees were formed. Of those, 30 were affiliated with legislators, Cabinet officers or candidates. From the 2016 General Election until July 2017, 135 new political committees were established, a 21 percent increase. Florida elected officials and candidates were affiliated with 33 of those newly filed political committees. Nearly all of the members of the Florida Senate have established or are affiliated with one or more political committees, while twothirds of the members of the Florida House of Representatives have one or more political committees. As has been well-publicized, Florida’s Governor, Attorney General, and Commissioner of Agriculture are all associated with well-funded political committees. Political committees are no longer reserved

for just those in leadership or on a leadership track. First-time candidates are discovering the advantages of having a political committee. What was the prized territory of electioneering communications organizations (ECOs), campaigning is now commonly done through political committees. There is no monetary limit on the electioneering messages a political committee may disseminate in any one race, so political committees often play large roles, especially in hotly contested races. A review of the most recently established political committees shows professional and industry groups continue to establish ones most often used to provide campaign contributions to candidates supportive of a profession’s or industry’s agenda. This effectively helps build better relationships with lawmakers. Communities and regions continue to organize to bring their concerns to Tallahassee and to introduce and educate lawmakers on the diversity of each region. A surprising number of political committees have been established recently, sporting names that are regional in nature or even specific to a county or municipality. Twenty-six such political committees not affiliated with an elected official or candidate were formed in the nine months after the 2016 General Election and 23 in the nine months after the 2014 General Election. County and municipal candidates also take advantage of the benefits of local political committees. For example, in Miami there are currently 25 registered political committees. As an aside, there are also 10 ECOs registered in Miami. As the election season heats up, expect even more political committees to become active in the races for Governor and Cabinet, the Legislature and down ticket.   Noreen Fenner is president of PAC Financial Management, a Tallahassee-based campaign finance management firm, specializing in establishing, maintaining, and reporting for Florida candidate campaigns and political committees of all sizes. For additional information, please visit PACFM.net

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{ insiders’ ADVICE

As good as it gets

steve vancore admits live-operator polling isn’t perfect, but it beats other methods of gauging political opinion

W

inston Churchill is famously quoted as saying; “Democracy is the worst form of government there is … except all the others that have been tried.”

Polling has become a lot like that. And to be more precise, live-operator polling — good, old-fashioned, pick-up-thephone-and-call-voters polling — is the worst form of gathering the opinions of voters … except for all the others. The fact remains that live-operator, phone-based polling remains the gold standard. Especially for political polling, where targets can often be narrow and data models need to be precise. So, who says live-operator calls are most reliable? The American Association for Public Opinion Research — the academic trade association for professional public opinion research — recently released a compendium of studies examining this question and published the findings as well as a suite of critical essays in a recent edition of Public Opinion Quarterly. They conclude that even with new challenges related to higher resistance of respondents, the advent and explosion of cell phones, and other hurdles, live operator calls are still the most valid and reliable. One excerpt; “… non-probability samples [i.e. Internet polls] attain the greatest estimated bias … compared to either the tele-

phone or in-person samples, which … tend to have consistently smaller amounts of estimated bias …” And another says the necessary weighting used in Internet polls alters “estimates by as much as 20 percentage points.” Twenty percentage points! So, what does this mean? It means that in an era of ever-increasing complexities in seeking to understand public opinion, the tried-and-true method of seeking out voters using professionally trained callers is still your best bet. (And, of course, be careful that the poll sample is properly modelled to look like the population in question — but most good pollsters know how to do that.) This is not to say that robo-polls are not helpful for quick looks (they very much can be) or that Internet polls are wrong — they’re not and they have upsides for certain kinds of projects, but the bottom line for political polls still remains. Even with new technologies, there are no easy answers or cheap solutions, and live-operator calls remain your most reliable means of gauging voter opinion. Steven Vancore is president of ClearView Research, a political polling and research firm in Tallahassee. Steve has been conducting polls, focus groups, and related research projects in Florida for nearly three decades. He can be reached at svancore@vancore-jones.com.

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INFLUENCE Magazine’s

2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS The best, the brightest, and the most influential lobbyists in the state 78 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

BY PETER SCHORSCH

Lobbying Firm of the Year

Simply put, they’re the best at what they do: Influencing.

Lobbyist of the Year

For the second year, INFLUENCE magazine presents its Golden Rotunda Awards, honoring the best lobbyists in an array of specialties: health care, appropriations, law enforcement, insurance, and gambling, to name a few.

Boutique Lobbying Firm of the Year

As we did last year, we asked Florida’s lobbying industry to submit nominations for the best of the best, both firms and individuals.

More Lobbyists of the Year: In-House Appropriations Education Gaming Health Insurance Law Enforcement

To determine the Lobbying Firm of the Year and Boutique Firm of the Year, we again asked each of the top 30 concerns (as measured by reported compensation) to nominate those they thought were the top three firms in each category. The ballots were weighted and the results tallied. For individual lobbyists, we again asked their colleagues to nominate those deserving. The resulting list aims to recognize the most outstanding in their fields. We hope the awards continue to burnish an under-recognized and under-appreciated profession. And no, there’s still not a gold-plated statue for the winners … but maybe one day. And now, the Golden Rotundas, please ... >>

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LOBBYING FIRM OF THE

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

YEAR

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GRAYROBINSON

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2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

LOBBYING FIRM OF THE

YEAR

GrayRobinson “Since our founding, we’ve successfully operated at the intersection of law and politics to help achieve our clients’ goals.” — Jason Unger, GrayRobinson

From alcohol to torts, health care to transportation, the GrayRobinson juggernaut rolls on. “We’re honored to represent a group of truly outstanding clients,” said Jason Unger, managing shareholder of GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office. “Since our founding, we’ve successfully operated at the intersection of law and politics to help achieve our clients’ goals.” Unger in particular had a strong 2017 Session. He successfully championed bills which eased regulations on craft distilleries and broadened the statutory definition of wine to include sake. The “whiskey and Wheaties” bill, for which he represented Target, passed the Legislature but was ultimately vetoed by Gov. Rick Scott. It would have repealed the decades-old requirement that Florida retailers sell spirits in a separate store. Philip McDaniel, CEO of St. Augustine Distillery, said “interacting with them is extraordinarily professional.” The Florida Distillers Guild has worked with GrayRobinson since 2012. “In a legally and politically complex regulated industry, they always provided good counsel and were able to effect change in a challenging regulatory and political environment,” McDaniel said. In the appropriations arena, GrayRobinson had a hand in securing funding for over $277 million in fiscal items, including individual appropriations projects to infrastructure investments as well as securing millions in additional, recurring funding for higher education, tax credit programs like the Brownfield Voluntary Cleanup Tax Credit Program, and services to the blind and visually impaired. Earlier this summer, the firm hired Kim McDougal, Scott’s former chief of staff. She is senior director of Government Affairs in the Tallahassee office, and is advising and lobbying for clients “in all sectors on both policy and appropriations issues, while she continues her passion by also focusing on education-related issues.” McDougal bolsters the firm’s formidable education practice, and adds additional horsepower on both policy and appropriations matters. “GrayRobinson is an Orlando-based law firm that has played a meaningful role in the growth of the entire state,” said President Mayanne Downs. “You see in each of our 13 offices, the reflection of our communities. Making Florida stronger is part of our DNA.” GrayRobinson has politically connected lawyers and consultants in each of its offices, which bolsters its

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local connection to legislative districts. In addition to the 16 legislative professionals in GrayRobinson’s Tallahassee office, Robert Stuart and Chris Carmody represent the firm in Orlando; Joseph Salzverg in Miami; and former state Sen. Burt Saunders (now a member of the Collier County Commission) in Naples. The firm includes former Florida House Speaker Dean Cannon (2010-12) and his team. Cannon is a GrayRobinson alum who started his legal career with the firm and was an active attorney and shareholder from 1995 to 2007. Cannon brought his rapidly growing Capitol Insight lobbying practice to GrayRobinson in 2016, adding six members to the lobbying team. Cannon, a licensed pilot, has taken on the role of statewide chair of Government Affairs and flies around the state tirelessly working with clients and legislative leaders. The combination made “GrayRobinson’s government relations and lobbying practice the largest such practice in any law firm in Florida,” Cannon said. In addition, it cemented the firm’s status as the “go-to” for well-heeled, A-list clients needing representation before the Legislature and state agencies. GrayRobinson not only has a high-powered lobbying team, it also has incredible depth of technical knowledge and legal expertise from its 300-plus attorneys and consultants. An example of this intersection of legal expertise and lobbying/political prowess was the firm’s successful lobbying for changes to Florida’s Statute of Repose law on behalf of Associated Builders and Contractors to better define the term “completion of the contract” following a District Court of Appeal ruling that highlighted the lack of clarity in the existing law. “I don’t look at things as us ‘being at the top,’” Unger said. “I look at it from the standpoint of how can we have the best group of lawyers and lobbyists to represent our clients, whether they’re Florida clients, national clients, or international clients.” The firm represents a diverse client base, ranging from local governments like the City of Orlando, Monroe County, and West Palm Beach; to private sector powerhouses like JPMorgan Chase, The Villages, PepsiCo, the Orlando Magic, Deloitte, Disney, and Lockheed Martin, among others. “As long as we stick with our core mission of exceeding our clients’ needs, whether it’s on the lobbying side or lawyering side, we’ll be moving in the right direction,” Unger said.


Shaping the future of technology for Florida public safety

A global leader in the technologies that enable our connected lives. In January 2016, Nokia completed the acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent and its research and innovation entity Bell Labs. This acquisition comes after those of Siemens and Motorola carrier businesses, to establish Nokia as the global leader in communications and mission-critical broadband networks. Nokia invents, designs, and deploys intelligent, connecting, technologies that make a real difference in people’s lives. We focus on the human possibilities of technology - continually reinventing communications to make it simpler, seamless. By doing so, we make society better, safer. Solving life’s digital challenges with integrity is how Nokia exercises its social responsibility. Shaping the future of technology – the Internet of Things (IoT), cloud and 5G – we anticipate and deliver information when and where it’s needed: transforming the human experience through autonomous driving, smart cities, smart homes, digital health and public safety.

A renewed commitment to bring leading innovation to Florida public safety Nokia is powering the backbone of the SLERS Public Safety Network. In 2017 Florida will be upgrading its network to Project 25 digital radio. This backbone will play a vital role in delivering the reliability and security needed, and support mission critical applications. And it will make the network readily scalable for new technologies such as 4G-LTE, the IoT and eventually 5G. Nokia is at the forefront of global innovation. We are committed to providing the people of Florida with the leading edge technology and services that its public safety officers are counting on. Learn more. nokia.ly/publicsafety

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PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

Runner-Up

LOBBYING FIRM OF THE

YEAR

Southern Strategy Group We’ve said it before: Since its founding in 1999, Southern Strategy Group is still the lobbying Goliath of the South, with offices in Tallahassee, where it all began, and also in five other states below the Mason-Dixon Line. We’ve also said this before: Nobody roots for Goliath, and thus SSG’s triumphs get glossed over each session. For 2017, they were enough to merit Goliath runner-up status for lobbying firm of the year. The millions of dollars SSG helped get its clients speaks for itself: For the Florida Drycleaners Coalition to continue funding a program that cleans up solvents used in the industry; for the continuation of the Department and Children and Families’ child welfare data analytics project; and saving funding to the St. Mary’s Memory

84 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

Disorder Program, to name just a handful. One of the reasons SSG stays on top of the hill? It’s not bound by traditional Republican notions that the only good government is small government. As many lobbyists privately admit, more government is good for business. “In our lifetime, arguably no trend is as clear or important as the growth of government,” the firm’s website says. “In good times, government swells with tax revenue and grows new programs and directives. In bad times, government spends money in incomprehensibly large amounts to spur the economy. Under any scenario the unwavering constant is that government grows, and with it the complexity and impenetrability of the organization.”


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PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

BOUTIQUE

LOBBYING FIRM OF THE

YEAR If you think back to some of the big issues lawmakers tackled during the 2017 Legislative Session, you might notice a common thread: The Mayernick Group. The boutique firm worked to get legislation that would help bring 5G to Florida across the finish line, helped secure more money for opioid treatment options, and played a pivotal role in the debate over implementing the 2016 medical marijuana constitutional amendment. The small firm also played in debates over health care and gambling, and continued to dominate the appropriations process. Led by the husband-and-wife team of Frank and Tracy Mayernick, the Tallahassee firm has experienced steady growth since it was founded in 2010. The firm now boasts more than 50 clients, including As86 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

The Mayernick Group sociated Industries of Florida, AT&T, Big Brothers Big Sisters Association of Florida, Florida Power & Light, the PACE Center for Girls, and U.S. Sugar Corp. This year the couple decided to expand the practice, announcing in January that Rob Johnson, who served as the director of legislative and Cabinet affairs for the Florida Attorney General’s Office since 2007, had joined the firm. “One of the biggest differences for our firm (this year) was bringing on Rob Johnson,” said Tracy Mayernick. “Bringing on that level to work for us, that was a different dynamic for the firm. Rob is the first high-level hire we brought on.” Tracy Mayernick said Johnson helped to expand the firm’s knowledge base. For instance, he was involved in the 2003

workers’ compensation overhaul, and that proved useful when the issue resurfaced again during the 2017 Session. “Tracy and Frank Mayernick, and Rob Johnson were intense advocates for their extensive list of clients this past session,” said Laura Brock, the in-house lobbyist for Florida State University’s College of Medicine. The Mayernicks also brought on Katie Smith ahead of the 2017 Legislative Session, who Frank Mayernick called an “incredibly valuable” member of the team. While the firm logged a series of wins this year, its work on behalf of Florida for Care, the group behind the 2016 medical marijuana amendment, might be some of its most notable. It seemed as though every lobbyist in Tallahassee was working on the


PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

issue this year, and Tracy Mayernick said the expectation at the beginning of Session was “there would be no expansion.” Florida for Care supported expanding the number of licenses, while also capping the number storefronts each license holder could have. While implementing legislation died during the regular session, it was ultimately included during the brief special session held earlier this summer. Tracy Mayernick called the issue one of the most rewarding and challenging issues they worked on during the 2017 Session. “When we got to that last day of session and it did not pass, that was a very challenging moment. What we learned from that was the Legislature did not ignore 71 percent of the people,” she said. That was the amount of voters who approved the initiative in 2016, well over the required 60 percent needed. “I know in the final outcome everyone didn’t get what they wanted. But they came back and they didn’t (ignore) 71 percent of the people.”

Runner-Up

BOUTIQUE

LOBBYING FIRM OF THE

YEAR

Pittman Law Group Founded in 2001, Sean Pittman’s Pittman Law Group has established itself as the latest boutique lobbying firm to merit inclusion in the Golden Rotundas. This past session, it was on the team that saw legislation pass benefiting its client, ride-booking company Uber. The firm used its Democratic connections to win over Democrats wary of, or even opposed to the bill. Another client recognized that Bright Futures funding would not be extended

into the summer semester. The Pittman firm drafted amendment language, even while some legislators insisted any changes were too late and had to wait till 2018. The PLG team persisted and worked with Sen. Bill Galvano to adopt the amendment before final passage of the bill. And the firm secured over $20 million in budget funding for its public clients in the areas of water projects, infrastructure projects, and higher education.

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LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Brian Ballard It was another good year for Donald Trump’s favorite Florida lobbyist. Brian Ballard, who has offices across the state and now in Washington, D.C., had a banner 2017 Legislative Session, even as he expands his client base across the globe. He recently inked deals with the Republic of Turkey and Albania’s ruling party. Perhaps the biggest achievement here: Ballard helped Uber finally get legislation over the finish line regulating the San Francisco-based ride-booking service and others like it, allowing them to operate free of local interference. He successfully defended ophthalmologists’ interests in the yearly “eyeball wars” against optometrists. Moreover, he also helped beat down an effort to repeal the limit on the amount of money tobacco companies must put up as appellate bonds, a loss for the state’s trial lawyers who backed the measure. Meantime, his new office tower in downtown Tallahassee gets closer to completion. But stressing that his firm is called “Ballard Partners,” he also gave props to Jan Gorrie, the firm’s Tampa Bay-based influencer. She worked on an under-the-radar issue for the Council of Florida Medical School Deans on behalf of the nine medical schools in the state, getting a funding increase of about $40 million. “Our medical schools in Florida have to earn their keep

88 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

by having robust faculty practice plans,” Gorrie said. “An increase in funding for those practice plans is very important to sustain the schools’ overall mission of training the best and brightest to address Florida’s physician shortage.” And the fact that that’s a priority of Gov. Rick Scott doesn’t hurt. In D.C., he expanded his footprint with the addition of veteran Rebecca Benn, who has more than two decades of Congressional and corporate experience. Benn spent five years as director of federal affairs for Jacksonville-based CSX Transportation. During that time, she managed government relations initiatives on safety, environmental regulation, and security, as well as overseeing federal constituent relations for seven states. Benn also served as a congressional staff member, serving as lead Republican negotiator for several billion-dollar federal appropriations bills, in addition to drafting legislative documents and analyzing budget requests. As Ballard told the Tallahassee Democrat: “When the president was elected, a lot of corporations we represent in Florida and folks from around the country started to call up and say, ‘We don’t know folks in the administration and we’d like to get know some folks in the administration. Can you help us?’” Nice work — and he can get it.


PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

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2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

Runner-Up

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Bill Rubin Rubin, founder and president of The Rubin Group, has been in The Process since 1984. No wonder, then, that he now represents a slew of corporations, nonprofits, and government entities, including Walmart, the University of Miami, and HCA Healthcare, the for-profit hospital chain once led by Gov. Rick Scott. He’s also a Scott confidant.   He also “serves as a key advisor to many large companies, with a focus on advising health care companies in Florida, including helping get early-stage companies off the ground” and has “experience in the strategy and management of statewide and local campaigns,” his official online bio says. (Rubin is notoriously averse to speaking to reporters, letting his work tell his story.) He started in the 1970s under Democrats, as an assistant to Attor-

90 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

ney General Bob Shevin and later Insurance Commissioner Bill Gunter. When the political tide turned to GOP control, Rubin turned with it. Last year, he hired Amy Bisceglia. She started her career in the Florida Senate president’s office as a legislative aide, before accepting a position in Gov. Scott’s administration. In that role, she worked directly with the chief of staff on carrying out the daily operations of the office. Lobbyist Nikki Fried, who now specializes in medical marijuana issues through her Igniting Florida firm, has worked with Rubin in Tallahassee and in South Florida. “He’s a beacon of leadership, whose calm demeanor is respected by lobbyists, executives, and lawmakers alike,” she said. “No matter what side of an issue you’re on, you respect him because you know he is a fair dealer.”


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IN-HOUSE

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Colin Hackney

Stephanie Smith 2017 was the year for Uber, and in-house Florida lobbyist Steph Smith was its smiling knight in shining armor. Lawmakers had considered legislation regulating Uber and other ride-booking companies for four years before passing a bill this year. Gov. Rick Scott quickly signed it into law. The legislation, among other things, requires “transportation network companies” (TNCs) to carry insurance and run background checks on drivers. Importantly, the law also pre-empts local ordinances and other rules on TNCs. Was it coincidence that legislation kept dying till Smith, who joined Uber in late 2015, came on board? The world may never know. One thing is clear: The 37-year-old lobbyist is assuredly known for her sunny disposition and seemingly ever-present smile in the halls of the Capitol. Before Uber, Smith had an Atlanta-based post as AT&T’s director of public affairs for Florida and Georgia. Smith is “an incredible advocate,” said GOP state Sen. Jeff Brandes of St. Petersburg, who worked on a bill for years. “She brought a calm, thoughtful voice to a very challenging topic,” he added. “You look forward to meetings with her, even in very difficult conversations. You always feel her encouraging attitude.” Those who have worked with her historically have had similarly glowing things to say. Anna Alexopoulos, vice president of accounts for Tallahassee’s On 3 Public Relations, once said “she’s incredibly good at separating the business from the personal and has this ability to make everyone smile.” “Even if she’s on the opposite side of an issue, people still love her,” Alexopoulos added.

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Runner-Up

IN-HOUSE

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Eileen Stuart

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Stuart and the public affairs team at The Mosaic Company get recognition for the work they did, and continue to do, to manage the public and governmental reaction to the New Wales sinkhole. Neighbors were concerned about the safety of their drinking water; surrounding communities were upset about the days that passed between Mosaic’s reporting the sinkhole to regulators and a public announcement. Stuart and her team regained community trust and engaged policymakers to get public opinion back out of the disaster zone. The University of Florida and Florida State University law school grad began working for Mosaic in 2009. Since 2011, she has led the company’s government affairs and public policy efforts in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C. Previously, Stuart worked in the Governor’s Office and the Florida Senate, and for the Public Service Commission. “Eileen is not only visionary but tactical, and works every day to build lasting relationships,” said Robin Safley, executive director of Feeding Florida and a Mosaic partner.

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LOBBYING

PLAY

OF THE

YEAR

Bill Rubin

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

An early supporter of Rick Scott when he first ran for governor, Rubin was the shuttle diplomat that got Scott and House Speaker Richard Corcoran together for the deal at the end of this year’s Special Session. As the Tampa Bay Times’ Steve Bousquet put it, “This … is how it works. It shows the power of relationships and how lobbyists exert influence in hidden ways.” Scott got Enterprise Florida saved and an $85 million Florida Job Growth Grant Fund for job training and public infrastructure. Corcoran got the governor’s signature on a bill to create privately run “Schools of Hope” to combat failing public schools in the state. Scott and Corcoran “didn’t trust each other, but they trusted Rubin, their relay man,” Bousquet wrote in June. “Rubin got to know Scott while lobbying for Scott’s Columbia/HCA hospitals in the 1990s, and he was one of the first insiders to support Scott’s surprise bid for governor in 2010,” according to the article. “Rubin also knew Corcoran as an adviser to Speaker Dan Webster in the mid-’90s, and Rubin’s clients collectively drop a lot of money in statewide and legislative races.” Rubin’s online bio adds that he “began his career working for Florida’s Attorney General as an executive assistant and later joined the Florida Department of Insurance, where he rose to the position of assistant insurance commissioner and treasurer.” And in the Capitol, it takes an insider to get stuff done.

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Runner-Up

LOBBYING

PLAY

OF THE

YEAR

David Browning

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Browning is one of the top fundraisers behind Paul Renner capturing the House Speakership for 2022-24. Unsurprisingly, Browning represents the City of Jacksonville, near Renner’s hometown of Palm Coast. Indeed, the Southern Strategy Group lobbyist is a fundraising maven, who raised millions in 2010 for Gov. Rick Scott. He also worked for former Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, now GOP candidate for governor. That’s not all: He was chief fundraiser for then-Speaker Dean Cannon, represented then-Senate President Mike Haridopolos and then-Senate Majority Leader Andy Gardiner, and worked with John Thrasher. “David is one of the people in this industry who is always in the right place at the right time,” Cannon said. “That’s because he combines a tireless work ethic with smart relationship building.”

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APPROPRIATIONS

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Ron Book

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The man, the legend, as they say. Lawyer and lobbyist Ron Book has been “stalking the corridors of the Capitol for over 40 years,” as we once wrote about him. Indeed, what more can be said that hasn’t already been written? “He’s a prostate cancer survivor. And he’s been a crusader against child abuse after revelations that his daughter Lauren, now a state senator, had been molested and abused by her nanny for years,” according to a prior INFLUENCE article. His appropriations successes in 2017 include $18 million for two pedestrian bridges and a pedestrian tunnel in the City of Miami Gardens, primarily for people going to games at Hard Rock Stadium. Book also got an opportunity to allow local government to continue to provide local incentives, (“under certain circumstances”) into the yearly tax package. That’s primarily focused on multi-use projects in Miami-Dade County. Further, Book helped secure $13 million for water projects in the Florida Keys, and another $1 million for a study of cancer in firefighters. His two right hands continue to be lobbyists Kelly Mallette and Rana Brown, as hardworking as Book, with Mallette considered to be a brilliant strategist, especially on appropriations issues. “You know where you stand with Ron: I always get good information from him, even though sometimes we’re on the same side and sometimes we’re not,” said Republican Sen. Kelli Stargel. “He’s good at working on the right compromise for any situation.”


PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Runner-Up

APPROPRIATIONS

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Jon Johnson

Johnson & Blanton, the former one-man shop started by Jon Johnson in 1995 and still specializing in health care issues, took on some “white hat” issues for other clients this legislative session. Johnson helped secure more than $2.4 million for Feeding Florida, formerly known as the Florida Association of Food Banks; $1.25 million for Selah Freedom Sex Trafficking Programs and Services; and $1.2 million for the

Bridging Freedom Program in Pasco County “to provide individualized, holistic, therapeutic safe homes for children traumatized by child sex trafficking.” Melanie Brown remains the firm’s director of government relations and attorney Diane Carr left Tallahassee’s Hopping, Green & Sams law firm to come on as general counsel. “We try to hire a person as opposed to filling a position,” Johnson has said. FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 97


DISRUPTION

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Jennifer Jankowski Green

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

A Capitol veteran, Green founded her firm, Liberty Partners of Tallahassee, in early 2007 with former U.S. Sen. Connie Mack. Since then, she’s built an impressive book of business that includes “disruptive technologies,” such as the HomeAway home-rental service, the Expedia online travel booking site, and global ride-booking behemoth Uber. Her big success this year came when negotiating a statewide insurance framework for Uber, while working with a bevy of other firms on a new law that regulates such services here in Florida. But she also pushed other legislation in 2017 that would have limited the regulating local governments could do on vacation and home rentals, and required notifications by auto dealers to new car buyers of certain rights under their warranties. For one client, the Florida Archeological Preservation Association, she worked on a bill that would have repealed a program to expand the issuance of permits to dig for artifacts on state-owned lands — a move intended to clamp down on artifacts being illegally removed from state-owned lands and sold on the private market. “She’s a class act,” said Tampa-based lobbyist Ron Pierce, with whom she owns a building in downtown Tallahassee. “Her attention to detail is second to none. That makes her an incredible advocate not only for her ‘disruptive technology’ clients but for every client. Her relationships and vast experience in The Process make her very effective.”

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Runner-Up

DISRUPTION

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Heather Turnbull

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Turnbull represents a grab bag of “disruption” clients, specifically the Airbnb vacation rental website, video game company Electronic Arts, Florida Virtual School, the St. Petersburg Distillery, and the Surterra medical marijuana concern. Turnbull, now a partner at The Rubin Group where she’s been since 2003, also “manages the political and campaign operations on behalf of (the firm) and serves as an advisor to candidates and elected officials on a wide range of political and campaign issues,” according to her bio. She began her career in politics as a legislative assistant in the Florida House of Representatives and is a licensed attorney in Florida, Arkansas, and the District of Columbia. “In my opinion, Heather is one of the most effective and likeable lobbyists in the Capitol,” said Capital City Consulting’s Nick Iarossi. “Love it when she is on my side of an issue; hate it when she isn’t because you better bring your “A” game. She’s relentless and strategic in her advocacy. By the time her opponents finally figure out she has done something to advance her client’s cause — it’s too late.”

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EDUCATION

LOBBYISTS OF THE

YEAR

Chris Schoonover Allison Liby-Schoonover Husband Chris didn’t have the typical pedigree of an education lobbyist when joining Capital City Consulting seven years ago. Since then, he’s quickly climbed the ranks as one of Florida’s premier education lobbyists, securing $5.4 million this year in recurring funds for New College of Florida to grow its enrollment to 1,200 students, among other triumphs. Wife Allison, who works at Metz Husband and Daughton, has banked her decade-plus of legislative and executive experience for the State College of Florida Foundation and the Seminole County School Board, among others. Liby-Schoonover was a West Philadelphia school teacher through Teach for America, and education policy advisor to former Senate President Don Gaetz.  “Alli is one of the smartest and hardest-working people I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around,” said Metz Husband and Daughton’s  Andy Palmer. “What makes her an exceptionally effective education policy advocate is the unique perspective she brings to the job. It’s the blend of hands-on experience from her days as a classroom teacher coupled with her time as the policy lead on education for a Senate President that really sets her apart.”

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Together, they’re a familial one-two punch.

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2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

Runner-Up

EDUCATION

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Darrick McGhee

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

McGhee, a veteran of Gov. Rick Scott’s office, was the governor’s legislative affairs director, among other stints. He also was at the Department of Economic Opportunity, and now helps current employer Johnson & Blanton in executive-branch lobbying of education issues.

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www.hcahealthcare.com FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 103


GAMING

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

No Casinos team No Casinos, opponents of gambling expansion, hired an array of consultants to beat down this year’s gambling reforms, many of which would have expanded gaming in the state. Success often comes in playing off pre-existing conflict. In May, state Rep. Jose Felix Diaz — the House’s point man on gambling — explained that an impossibility of compromise over slot machines killed the 2017 gambling bill. The sticking point was an offer to expand slot machines to pari-mutuels in counties that approved them in referendums. Such an expansion still needs legis104 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

lative approval. The House opposed it; the Senate wanted it. Nothing has moved in the Legislature for years, mostly because of the fractures when it comes to gambling. It’s split among anti-gambling expansion lawmakers, those with a Seminole casino in their district, and those with other pari-mutuel interests among their constituency (i.e., dog or horse tracks). Divide and conquer. Paul Seago, the organization’s executive director, was more circumspect in his praise of the firms of Johnson & Blanton and Liberty Partners of Tallahassee,

as well as The Fiorentino Group and Enwright Consulting. “They did what all great lobbyists do — effectively communicate our position to lawmakers and legislative leaders,” Seago said. “They are (our) eyes and ears in the Capitol …” They were also “instrumental in helping us appear before the House Tourism and Gaming Control Committee to present both a historical perspective on gambling expansion in Florida, as well as the long-term potential damage that expanding gambling can do,” he added.


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PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

Runner-Up

GAMING

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Seminole Tribe of Florida team The Tribe hired an all-star team of lobbyists for the 2017 Legislative Session: Jones Walker’s Emily Buckley and Chris Moya; Floridian Partners’ Charlie Dudley, Jorge Chamizo, and Cory Guzzo; Greenberg Traurig’s Gus Corbella, Hayden Dempsey, and Leslie Dughi; independent consultant Screven Watson; and PooleMcKinley’s Van Poole, Will McKinley, and Fred Dickinson. But the big win for the Tribe came not through traditional lobbying and legislating, but in the courts. Greenberg Traurig’s star litigator Barry Richard, who registers as a lobbyist every session “just in case,” wrangled a settlement with the state this summer, ending a lawsuit over whether the Tribe could keep blackjack at its casinos. Richard had won in a federal trial court last year, but the state appealed. Now, the Tribe gets to keep the lucrative table games; the state continues to receive millions in gambling revenue share. Win-win.

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HEALTH CARE

LOBBYIST OF THE

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

YEAR

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Ron LaFace Jr. Health care lobbyists had a rough Legislative Session in 2017, but Capital City Consulting’s LaFace pushed the envelope for clients, even working on a hair transplant bill. That measure would have required the newest hair transplant procedures to be subject to more healthcare regulation than more-invasive “legacy” procedures. The bill was an effort by physicians who perform traditional hair transplants to “over-regulate new technologies that enable better hair transplant outcomes with less cutting on the patient,” he said. LaFace, for client Neograft, helped amend the bill to subject all hair transplants to the same regulations. Bill proponents soon lost interest and dropped the effort.  

He also worked on a “medication synchronization” bill for clients Aetna, Cigna, and the Florida Association of Health Plans, requiring health plans to establish a process for patients with multiple monthly prescriptions to have the refill dates lined up so they only have to make one trip to the pharmacy each month. Sponsored by House Democratic Leader Janet Cruz, it became law this year.   Katie Webb, who manages Colodny Fass’ Lobbying and Governmental Consulting division in Tallahassee, said LaFace always gives the best counsel to his clients. “Ron is a repository of knowledge about The Process and helps the rest of his team develop a strategy,” she said.

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2017 GOLDEN ROTUNDA AWARDS

Runner-Up

HEALTH CARE

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Jan Gorrie

PHOTO: Benjamin Todd

Gorrie, Ballard Partners’ Tampa Bay-based influencer, worked on an under-the-radar issue this year for the Council of Florida Medical School Deans, on behalf of the nine medical schools in the state, getting a funding increase of about $40 million.

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INSURANCE

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Ashley Kalifeh It was no easy session for insurance lobbyists — especially pregnant ones, which makes Kalifeh’s win of Insurance Lobbyist of the Year all the more sweet. Kalifeh, who spent the summer home with her newborn daughter, gets credit for the hard work put in toward a host of unresolved issues this year, including assignment of benefits and workers’ comp. Her background in government helps: She’s a former legislative affairs director and deputy chief financial officer for Florida’s Department of Financial Services. Working with Associated Industries of Florida, she also took part in what she called “an ancillary, but important, issue — injured worker privacy.” With sponsors Keith Perry in the Senate and Ben Albritton in the House leading the way, a bill passed to ensure “workers’ compensation claimants now will be free from aggressive, confusing attorney solicitations soon after they are injured on the job,” she said. She also helped take out an archaic program in which drivers in certain counties had to undergo a vehicle inspection before getting insurance coverage. A study by the state showed that $12 million had been spent on compliance, yet only $35,640 had been saved. This session, Sens. Jeff Brandes and Randolph Bracy, and Rep. Bobby DuBose agreed to carry legislation to deep-six the inspection requirement. It also won approval. Kalifeh “is fearless and motivated and that is a good thing,” said fellow insurance lobbyist Mark Delegal, for whom she once worked. “She is tough and smart. She will do BIG things.”

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Runner-Up

INSURANCE

LOBBYIST OF THE

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

YEAR

Fred Karlinsky

When Rick Scott needs advice on insurance-related policy, he turns to longtime powerhouse Karlinsky, a Weston-based insurance lawyer and lobbyist. He co-chairs Greenberg Traurig’s Insurance Regulatory & Transactions Practice and has more than 20 years of experience. Most telling: He now represents Goldman Sachs, which has investment ties to Venezuela, as the state cuts its own ties to the South American socialist regime.

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LAW ENFORCEMENT

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

Stacy Arias

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

The Florida Sheriffs Association lobbyist previously was chief of staff with the Florida Department of Corrections and the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, among a slew of government jobs over 20-plus years. Â

114 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


Runner-Up

LAW ENFORCEMENT

LOBBYIST OF THE

YEAR

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

Heather Turnbull

Turnbull represents Geo Group, which had an outstanding session, and was lead lobbyist for the Broward County Sheriff’s Office. Also, she was the instrumental force in obtaining security funding for Jewish day schools relating to counterterrorism efforts, with help from Rep. Randy Fine and Sen. Lauren Book.

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RO U N DTA B L E

Show

US

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

AS TOLD TO ROSANNE DUNKELBERGER

Two generations of women gathered at Tallahassee’s Blu Halo restaurant one morning for a freewheeling discussion about their experiences as lobbyists in the Capitol. Participants included (seated, left to right) moderator Christina Johnson, Samantha Sexton, Keyna Cory, and Andrea Reilly. Standing, left to right, are Monica Rodriguez, Sara Busk, and Jan Gorrie.

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L

et’s face it: What girl dreams of growing up to be a lobbyist? And yet they do, and many become darn good at it.

So it won’t surprise you that our latest Roundtable boasts more than one biology major (Sarah Busk and Jan Gorrie) and an inner city classroom teacher (Monica Rodriguez). One admitted when she first started, she had to Google “what is committee week?” (Andrea Reilly). Another said she’d been doing it so long, lobbying was her life (Keyna Cory). Still another was told to use “Sam” instead of “Samantha” so people would respond to her (Samantha Sexton). On3PR’s Christina Johnson leads the discussion, in which we learn about bringing babies to the Capitol, the leadership of Toni Jennings, and the importance of not holding grudges.

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MEET THE PANELISTS The Moderator, Christina Johnson, 54 President, On 3 Public Relations

Johnson opened her woman-owned, full-service firm in February 2008. She previously worked for the Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Republican Party of Florida (RPOF), focusing on political campaigns.

Sarah Busk, 37, Director of Government Affairs The Advocacy Group at Cardenas Partners

Busk represents clients before the legislative and executive branches of Florida on a wide range of matters. Her experience includes working with local governments, statewide associations, and businesses.

Keyna Cory, 62 President, Public Affairs Consultants, Inc.

Cory has more than 20 years of legislative experience, representing for her entire career the Florida chapter of the National Solid Waste Management Association. She also has represented client issues relating to the environment, local governments, transportation, telecommunications, agriculture, water, and general business. Her husband, Jack Cory, also is her business partner.

Jan Gorrie, 57 Managing Partner — Tampa Office, Ballard Partners

Before joining Ballard Partners 5½ years ago, Gorrie spent more than two decades lobbying the Florida Legislature and executive branch on behalf of numerous clients. Her expertise is in health care law, specifically Medicaid financing, and appropriations in general. 

Andrea B. Reilly, 35 General Counsel, Smith, Bryan & Myers

With extensive experience in political and administrative law, Reilly provides strategic counsel to her firm’s clients to develop and execute their government advocacy agendas in a wide range of public policy areas. She currently serves as the general counsel to the Florida Health Care Association.

Monica Rodriguez, 42 Partner — Tallahassee Office, Ballard Partners

Rodriguez has more than 15 years of legislative experience at the state and federal levels representing clients in industries such as health care, insurance, nonprofit entities, and local governments. She also has been active in state and federal Republican Party politics.

Samantha Sexton, 28 Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Personal Insurance Federation of Florida

At PIFF, Sexton works to promote an efficient and competitive marketplace for personal insurance products for the benefit of Floridians. Before joining PIFF, she was the Director of Legislative Affairs for PACE Center for Girls, Inc.

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Christina Johnson: You’re lobbyists doing well — but there’s also the fact that you’re all women. So we’ll just start with some of the basics: What got you interested in the field of lobbying and government affairs? Keyna Cory: A fraternity brother of mine was doing a graduate course, and part of it was going to Tallahassee to lobby for 18-year-old majority rights. So we commuted a couple times a week, driving from Gainesville to Tallahassee and we passed (the law). I got married out of college and had a whole different career for a while. By the time I got divorced and met Jack, he was already in the business and said “I’d love to have you come and join me.” Sarah Busk: I was a biology major at Florida State and decided after a year or two that wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I moved home for a semester and interned for some friends of my parents in their law firm — Richard and Robert and Ann Corcoran. Richard was doing political mailers and things like that. I was always in student government and interested in politics and I never realized I could make it a career. I came back to Florida State after that semester, changed my major and here I am. Jan Gorrie: I backed into it. I was a biology major and I stayed with it. I never had politics on my mind. Then I got a Master’s in public health and got into health policy and realized that I couldn’t be a policy wonk without being in politics, because nothing would ever happen. Monica Rodriguez: This was my third career, actually. I started off as an inner city middle school teacher and then I went to law school at night and I got my law degree. I was waiting to pass the bar and I worked for Marco Rubio for about three months. Then I practiced law as a litigator and I absolutely hated it. And then I get a call from former legislator Mike Abrams … and he says, “I’m looking for lobbyists I asked Marco Rubio and he recommended you.” I didn’t really know what lobbying was. I’d been to Tallahassee once in my life. And I didn’t know how the legislative process worked. I’ve been with Mike almost 17 years. CJ: Starting in the business of governmental relations, is there any advice you received, good or bad? Samantha Sexton: I had a background in campaigns had done enough campaign work where it was tiring. It’s not a lifestyle you want to live. I had two friends basically say (lobbying) is the business you don’t want to get into, so start looking somewhere. Clearly didn’t heed their advice. The best advice


was prioritize. It’s still a lesson we all learn. Prioritize, whether it’s being home every night with your family or planning your morning. CJ: So, good advice: Find that balance early. Has anybody found that balance later in life? KC: This is my life. Every single day when we walk into that Capitol, we make a difference in somebody’s life and hopefully we make it good and not for bad. JG: I don’t think you can do it without that passion. It’s not like our other friends’ jobs. We’re not 9 to 5 and there’s always one more event that you’ve got to go to and one more person you have to have breakfast with or there’s a client who’s in crisis. SS: My name is Samantha. Somebody, a male, asked me, “Do you sign Samantha or Sam?” My name is Samantha so I sign Samantha. “Well, you might want to consider being Sam, so if they don’t know you, they’ll respond.” That is the worst advice. CJ: What are some of those issues or events that you’ve been most proud of in the business? MR: What I mainly do is appropriations for organizations such as foster care review, Citrus Health Network, guardian ad litem, the homeless shelter in Miami … (and) Shands. The kids are like, “Mom, during conference we don’t see you.” I tell them “these kids don’t have parents, and they need money. Right after Session I’ll be here, I’ll be around — but they need me right now.” I wake up happy every morning that I was able to do this. CJ: So you’re giving a voice to those who don’t have a voice? Or don’t know the process? JG: Exactly. DACCO, that’s my labor of love. It’s the substance abuse treatment

facility in Hillsborough County. Now it’s opioids, before it was pill mills, before that it was heroin. Each community has to piece together what they have in terms of community resources. Yeah, you get into this and their issues become your heart and soul. MR: It’s lifesaving. We are saving people’s lives. This funding is saving people’s lives. Andrea Reilly: But sometimes you have to lobby for things that aren’t so like that. Some of my most proud moments that I’ve felt most professionally accomplished … have been just business successes. It’s kind of the feeling of “OK, I actually do know what I’m doing.” I was in Tampa and my firm asked me to come up to Tallahassee and help with committee week. I Googled “What is committee week?” Five years from that time I was able to secure an appropriation for a client and know it was something I was lead on. CJ: What are some of those other “aha!” moments where you say “I have made a difference.” This would not happen but for our involvement in this issue?” KC: Back in 2000 I was lead lobbyist for the National Waste and Recycling Association going against League of Cities, the association of counties, and every special district known to mankind that has anything that had to do with solid waste. We ended up passing fair competition legislation that was modeled for the entire country. Sarah Busk: One of the crazy things about this process is there are so many highs and so many lows. It just happened to me this year. I went to bed one night thinking “my bill is dead and there’s nothing I can do. I’ve tried everything.” And then I woke up in the morning, went and

met with a legislator and all of a sudden it was alive again. And it passed and it was signed by the governor. CJ: It’s never over ‘til it’s over. Are there some issues that come up year after year that you’re part of and you’re just hoping against hope that it’s going to pass? JG: You can’t give up, you just cannot give up. AR: I don’t want to declare victories because they come back every year. Let’s not become a target. JG: It’s often not one and done. If you’re watching something, you could watch it for decades. Actually some of our issues are kind of stuck in a rut … nicely stuck in a rut. But keeping them in that rut is also very boring. CJ: How have you seen the process grow from the old white guys, to women–not only being a vital part of the process, but leading lobbying teams and being there in committee meetings, and affecting change? SS: I have a lot of respect for the younger generation of legislators. I think they don’t know the term “secretary” as some of us do. They’ve been beside women the entire time, so it’s a different type of respect. JG: As someone who’s lobbied over 30 years, when it started there were maybe 10 women in the Capitol. And they were in education and health care. Every single one of us, that was it. And I must say it is so wonderful to see that evolution. We’re in all the committees now … in every single category of industry. And it’s awesome to see that evolution happen in my lifetime. AR: Right now, you have the senate president’s chief of staff, the governor’s chief of staff — both female. To your point, we’re seen as equals … and it’s so FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 119


RO U N DTA B L E

interesting to hear that used to be a real factor when you walked into a room. I’ve never had to think about it. CJ: To your point, you don’t see it as a problem right now. You see that men and women get treated equally, listened to, respected … SS: For the most part. I’m the only female on our team outside of our expanded family of contract lobbyists, which has amazing badass women. You walk into a committee … they’re calling you because you’re honest, straightforward, you’re not wasting their time, you’re bringing the issue to them. And that’s why they respect you, it’s not because you’re in a cute pink dress, it’s because you know your stuff. AR: I can’t recall any problems that I’ve had, feeling discriminated against by men. I had an issue with a woman once who was older than me. A client gave me a whole lowdown about how I need to cut my hair really short and wear muted makeup and dress in conservative suits all the time. I don’t need to act and dress like a man in order to be successful. I’m going to be myself. I sometimes feel like women can be our worst enemies. KC: In my era, a lot of women never wanted to help another woman because, after all, “I made it to the top. My elbows are out and get out of my way.” I’m so happy to see that we try to help each other now. MR: You can have kids and you can work and you can balance everything. You can have it all and it’s OK. And it’s OK not to go to an event because your kid has something else. It’s going to be fine as long as you know your subject matter, you study it, and take care of your clients. AR: I think a lot of people think what we do is all relationships; all you have to do is schmooze people. It’s going to be rare that somebody’s going to vote with you based on a relationship. You have to convince them 120 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

on the issue, so you have to know your stuff. Being a subject matter expert is much more important than the relationship. SS: Another really important lesson I’ve learned in this process: You can’t hold a grudge. There are going to be times where you’re going to go head-to-head with somebody. If you hold a grudge or get too personally tied up in things that happen, that can be a major liability. Because you’re going to have to work with the person that’s on the opposite side again. Maybe sooner than you’d hoped. JG: People’s positions in the process might change too. Someone on the outside might go inside, might come back outside, or staff changes. Someone that you may be rude to one day is going to turn out to be staff director in two years or they pop up in an agency as a Secretary. AR: Most of the successful lobbyists I’ve seen have done a great job of helping people from an early point in their career. Because those people end up places and they remember who helped them. CJ: That also goes with committee staff. They don’t have term limits. Know your stuff for those members, but you also have to know your stuff for those committee staffers. AR: You’re making an impression on not just legislators, but your fellow lobbyists and committee staff. Everybody you interact with is going to take away some sort of impression of you and how knowledgeable you are — and that reputation has a way of spreading quickly. CJ: More than 11,000 lobbyists and principals are registered in Florida. There so many issues out there, so many other lobbyists out there. How do you navigate through all of it and who’s doing it right and maybe who’s doing it wrong? MR: Jan and I work together at Ballard

and we talked a little about this. It’s teamwork. Working together as a team, talking through things. AR: Strategy and all those things are things you work through together as you’re figuring out the right approach to get the attention. You can’t light your hair on fire about every single thing. You have to pick and choose your spots. It’s not always the wrong thing. But if you do it every time something comes up, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. It’s like “Oh, another emergency on this again?” KC: We do a lot of grassroots. We want that member to know what’s happening in their district and what their district is saying needs to be done. If they get enough groundswell from their district and their people then yes, things will happen. SS: Don’t just bring yourself and your team in there. Allow (clients) to have that voice because they’re going to be most knowledgeable and passionate. AR: It shows they care too, to the legislator. I try to schedule all my clients during session to come up at least once. Some of them come up every single week. CJ: Do you have any advice you would give for a woman getting into this field and then maybe would it be any different than any advice you would give anybody going into this field? JG: I think starting out doing campaign work is a really good way for people to see how the process really begins. It takes a lot of personal inner drive to put yourself out there to run for office … and if you don’t see that person in the trenches, I think you don’t get an appreciation for why they’re there. KC: My No. 1 thing is to try it out a little bit, be an intern and see if you really do like this. If you find that you’re passionate about it, then go for it.


AE: Speaking of passion, I would often tell a young person find an area of expertise; work on a committee. And I do believe that advice might be particularly applicable to females. Because whether it’s true or not, I think there’s at least a perceived credibility bias. I found that having a law degree provides some added credibility. SS: Keyna said it: Giddy up, let’s go. There was a gate placed in front of me every single time I was interested. Just jump in. Do it all. Learn it. You’re going to figure out real quick what you’re good at, what you don’t like. Be genuine all the time. You can’t fake it. SB: Your reputation is all you have when you walk into somebody’s office or when you’re talking with another lobbyist. It’s all you have, so guard that as carefully as you can. Act with integrity … and keep that in mind the entire time you’re working because you can’t get that back once you’ve lost it. CJ: Any parting thoughts? AR: It’s more important for them to respect you than for them to like you. You so often have to have hard-to-have conversations. It’s more important that they respect you, even if they might be mad at you for a period of time. KC: I think we have the hardest profession to describe to somebody that doesn’t work in it. It’s not in a textbook. JG: As a lawyer and a lobbyist I loved when the “Legally Blonde” movies came out. I was so appreciative that my girls were like “OK, we go to Tallahassee and we see you going around and you’re like Reese Witherspoon!” AR: That’s better than “Thank You for Smoking.” SB: I really think as women there are more advantages than there are challenges. I love the way that things are changing

and the support we give one another. MR: The other thing is my kids, they come to the Capitol, I’m on conference calls and they’ll be in background or they’ll be in my office and I’ll have clients there. Maybe some people have been offended by it and haven’t said anything, but … AR: You are human. So are the people you’re working with. SB: Exactly, and do you find more men do that too? It’s just evolved to that. JG: I talk on the phone when they’re coming from day care and there’s screaming kids in the back seats. I like those guys that have the screaming kids in the back seat. KC: When we bought this new office building, there’s a little office on the side and I immediately said “Erin, I know you’re going to want children one day, this is going to be the nursery” and that’s the way it worked. Now, when I was her age, lord no. You were banished for months at a time, and told to come back when the kids are in kindergarten. You had to make that choice. MR: I had a Special Session right after mine was born and I was in the Capitol with the baby in the BabyBjorn sling. JG: I brought a one-week-old to the Capitol to finish the budget. SB: How can you say no to somebody with a baby? CJ: It’s very interesting to hear everybody’s perspective. KC: I wanted to go back to that question Samantha asked about Toni Jennings. It was really kind of a different era. She was a different person. She knew how to pull people together, men and women together. She ran a business. JG: Running the business and politics, that was her family. And her children and her life. And she was masterful at

that. She was a phenomenal consensus builder. She could bring people in. Every session has its own personality and she brought civility to the process in a way that some of us had never seen. Ending committee meetings at 6 and sine die at 5 o’clock with the white tablecloth and orange juice. CJ: You’re right, it’s the highest compliment to be nominated twice back to back. It’s not happened since. KC: We had some sessions when we had Tom Gustafson that we would start committee meetings at 7:30 in the morning he would sometimes end session at 2 or 3 o’clock in the morning. I would drive back and forth long enough to take a shower, change clothes, make sure the dog was there and then drive back. JG: And there was so much smoking in the Capitol too, there was a blue haze over the rotunda area. Literally. I’d … leave my clothes on the back porch and run in. Exactly like a coal miner. It was horrid. And then literally be home long enough to jump in the shower, maybe sleep a few hours. AR: During the conference process I slept on the floor in my office. JG: We all keep extra shoes in our offices. And a change of clothes. MR: I have deodorant, soap, mouthwash. JG: I used to have to keep hose and knee highs. KC: I’m embarrassed, I just stopped wearing hose in the last couple years. I was a faithful hose person.

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LESSONS from LORI

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ori Killinger is an executive shareholder in the law firm of Lewis, Longman & Walker in Tallahassee, and chairs the firm’s Legislative, Lobbying and Governmental Affairs practice. Since becoming a lawyer in 1988, she’s worked as a commercial litigator, has been a water use litigator for the old Department of Environmental Regulation, was a staff attorney for the House Judiciary Committee under former Speaker Peter Rudy Wallace (the last Democrat to hold that office), led a study committee for the late Gov. Lawton Chiles that resulted in the creation of the Florida Building Commission and the Florida Building Code, and became government relations director for the Florida Manufactured Housing Association, before joining Lewis, Longman & Walker in 2007. She’s married to attorney Lee Killinger, director of Public Policy and Government Affairs for Mosaic Fertilizer. They have one son, Andrew, 22. Killinger, who grew up in Coral Springs and went to high school with former state Sen. Paula Dockery, sat down recently with INFLUENCE’s Jim Rosica.

Lesson No. 1: DON’T LET THE GOSSIPERS WIN “... There is no doubt in my mind that there is a glass ceiling. I don’t think, however, there is overt discrimination. I never felt looked down upon in The Process because I was a woman. However, there are significant barriers because you’re a woman. The most obvious barrier is the way in which men and women relate to each other generally. For me to reach out to a male (legislator) and say ‘Hey, want to meet for a drink? Want to have dinner?’ can easily be taken out of context. “I’m not afraid to be alone with male legislators, but people talk or make things up. My 25-year marriage means more to me than any of this, and so I always try to behave in a way that if my husband heard it, saw it, or walked in on it, he wouldn’t think twice about it.”

1

“I’ve been fortunate to have great clients who have given me the opportunity over the years to access the upper echelons of Florida’s political leadership. I have also been fortunate to be at a law firm where there is no glass ceiling — my firm is filled with strong, professional women (me included) who have risen to leadership positions within the firm and within our communities. “Even with all of my success, there is no doubt that in The Process, there’s still a barrier that does not allow me to get the same kind of ‘close’ as my male counterparts. “I am loath to go alone to places with legislators that male lobbyists can. I have only had a couple of people through the years try to suggest that there should be something more than just going and having dinner or a drink, but it’s been very rare. I think I’m very careful about the energy I convey.”

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Lesson No. 3: BE ‘CONFIDENT’ AND ‘DIRECT’ “... I have had incidents over the years where a male lobbyist will try to correct me or tell me a different way to act (I’m often told to ‘smile’ even in the most serious of situations) or even how to be ‘nicer’ at the podium. I just had someone do this to me this past session. As a highly trained advocate, a UF grad with a BA in literature, and a Duke Law grad who has many years at the podium, I am very confident up there. I am clear at the podium, I’m direct at the podium, and I’m not worried about what people think of me. “I often have only a minute to address complex and controversial issues. I have to hit it quick, hit it hard, and I have to be passionate and persuasive. And, let’s not forget that today our clients are watching. I

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PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson

Lesson No. 2: IT HELPS TO HAVE ‘GREAT CLIENTS’

have to make sure that I’m zealously advocating on behalf of my clients. It’s very important to me that they know that I care.”

Lesson No. 4: LOVE WHAT YOU DO “... I have not thought about what else I would want to do. I love this job. It’s changed a lot over the years, mostly due to term limits, the gift ban, and just because politics has gotten really divisive. However, the job remains incredibly dynamic — the clients are so cool, the issues are fantastic, and just being this close to these really heady policies that affect our state still fascinates and excites me to this very day. “... Here’s what I will end with — because this is about women, right? I’ve been at this a long time and I can tell you that the group of women lobbyists who walk around this Capitol are some of the smartest, most politically savvy people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting and working with. I’m a huge fan, and I think the Legislature, the lobbying corps, and the state are all the better for it.”

4


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BY MICHAEL MOLINE

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Hello Kitty toy rested on an end table in Katie Webb’s seventh floor corner office in downtown Tallahassee one recent Friday — next to a big box of Crayolas. Atop her desk, facing visitors, stood a placard: “Well-behaved Women Rarely Make History.” This working single mother of two — Fulton, 7, and Anna, 4 — is one of Tallahassee’s most powerful and effective lobbyists. She runs Colodny & Fass’ eight-member government affairs operation — specializing in insurance clients, although her shop also tackles appropriations and other work. Maintaining a work-life balance “is tough,” Webb allowed. “I’m lucky that I have a lot of family support in Tallahassee. Both my parents live here and my former in-laws are also here, and they help a lot.” So does her former husband, with whom Webb shares custody. “It’s not easy. You’ve got to rely on other people to help. And I’m very fortunate that I’ve got people here who are understanding of that. If I’ve got a sick child at school and I have to leave to pick them up, it’s not the end of the world. They understand that.” Colleagues in the lobby corps attest to Webb’s effectiveness. “Frankly, I don’t think Katie needs a qualifier,” said Kyle Ulrich, senior vice president for public affairs for the Florida Association of Insurance Agents. He was a year behind Webb at Tallahassee’s Leon High School and his wife was her Kappa Delta sorority sister. Hey, it’s a small town. “I think Katie’s a top lobbyist regardless of whether she’s a female or not,” he said. “She’s effective and she really does have some pretty extraordinary relationships with members of the Legislature who matter.” Webb didn’t spend her childhood dreaming of becoming a lobbyist. Although that might have been natural, reared as she was in this company town. After high school, she earned her bachelor and law degrees from Florida State University. “Everybody comes to it in a different way,” she said. “The way I came to this was sort of by accident.”

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KATIE WEBB It takes a village, and a deep knowledge of insurance issues


PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

During her senior undergraduate year, Webb served an internship under the tutelage of Mac Stipanovich and Jim McGill, then at Fowler White. Then, as a law student, she participated in a Florida House program deploying budding lawyers as committee aides. Webb found herself attached to the insurance committee. “Which everybody had warned me off: ‘Whatever you do, don’t get insurance. Get tourism. Get something fun,’ “ she said. “But that’s sort of how I wound up here. I met a bunch of insurance lobbyists just by working on bill analyses.” Armed with her law degree, Webb joined a litigation firm in Orlando. David Simmons, now a state senator, was a partner. “I wasn’t really crazy about the work. I loved the firm — the people at the firm were fantastic. But I really didn’t like litigating. It wasn’t my thing.” Too adversarial. Fate played its next hand when Webb ran into some Colodny people at a political event. “In the course of that conversation, one of them asked me, ‘Would you every consider coming to Tallahassee and working in government affairs?’ ” she said. “I hadn’t really considered it at all until they said something, but I started thinking about it. A couple of months went by, and I had a really bad day at the office or something. I said, ‘You know what? I’m going to start looking for something different.’ I reached back out to them and said, ‘If you guys are still interested, let’s talk.’ ” The work fascinated her. “It’s a really unique perspective as an attorney to look at how these laws are made. They’re made with as much thought and deliberation as can be done in a short period of time. The turnaround on a lot of products that come out of the Legislature is very quick, and mistakes get made and commas get misplaced.” That internship experience, she found, came in handy. “I have an appreciation for the importance that insurance plays in the economy. The advantage of it is that, because it is so complicated, the pool of people who actually do have an expertise in the area is not very big. It’s not easy for competitors to break into.” Webb attributes her success to hard work and ability to build trust with lawmakers and clients. Her nimbleness came to the fore during the debate over sinkhole insurance during the early part of this decade — one of the numerous major issues she’s worked on. Pressed at the same time to tackle auto, workers’ compensation, and other forms of insurance legislation, the members complained of “insurance fatigue.” Focus on one problem, they said. Sinkholes, it was. “It meant in other areas, initiatives that people had, had to wait. But it was necessary at the time,” Webb said. She’s one of a handful of lobbyists lawmakers reply upon for honest advice. “There’s a small group who regularly are requested to get together with members of the Legislature and staff folks from time to time, to really vet an issue. ‘OK, the Colodny firm’s fine with it, but where’s the Meenan firm, where’s Holland & Knight, where’s Capital City Consulting?’ ” As for sexism, Webb doesn’t believe it has held her back — certainly not by members of the Legislature. “Where I would say it plays out a little more is among the lobby corps,” she said. “People are always looking for other people’s weaknesses and vulnerability. If there is a circumstance that someone observes that could be completely innocent — two people walking out of a restaurant at the same time, or they happen to be in a certain area of the Capitol that looks suspicious. People start a lot of rumors. Anything to take your competitor down. “I wouldn’t say picking on women necessarily, but women FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 125


MANAGING PARTNERS

Lila Jaber learned her people skills as a girl helping her Palestinian-immigrant father search flea markets in Sanford for old radios to fix for resale, and later at his music store. She interpreted for her mother, who spoke little English. “I learned quickly how to manage a business, be part of a business,” Jaber said. “I have had opportunities others have not to learn how to communicate with people. It was better than law school.” Since last year, Jaber has been managing shareholder for North Florida, Tampa, and Orlando for the 13-office Gunster law firm. She also manages the 12-member government affairs practice. Jaber is a former chairwoman of the Public Service Commission, and her department focuses on utilities, water, and environmental regulation. “We can leverage that subject-matter expertise and match it up with our legislative strength, and help our clients navigate the legislative process or the Florida Cabinet process,” Jaber said. She’s been married for 30 years, with four children, two of them still at home. “I know that I have an opportunity to influence other women and help their careers. I take that very seriously,” Jaber said. “But I also take seriously the fact that I have an opportunity to influence state leadership regardless of whether I’m talking to a man or a woman. You move the dial in helping women grow by showing that we’re all in it together.” Jaber founded the Florida’s Women in 126 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

LILA JABER

Moving the dial for equality, one person at a time

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

are an easy target. If this female got this male to run this amendment, then they must be having an affair. Implying there’s some type of illicit relationship when there’s not one.” Then, too, the old guard is not above throwing the occasional elbow at up-andcoming lobbyists — an impulse firm founder Mike Colodny doesn’t indulge in, Webb said. “He’s very much open to females being in positions of influence and having a seat at the table.” Moreover, “he and everybody in leadership positions at the firm are understanding of the fact that I’m a single mom, at least part of the time, and things are going to happen with the kids that are unavoidable,” Webb said. “It might mean I’m out of the office for a day or two when I wasn’t planning on it. Or I have to cancel a trip, or the kids are up here with me. Sorry that Anna’s running down the hallway to get another mint from Miss Vicky! Please try to understand that she’s four and she’s going to do that sometimes.”

Energy Leadership Forum two years ago. It brings together accomplished professionals — male and female — to promote diversity in the field. She also founded the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce. “The approach I’ve taken that if you can

move the dial one person at a time, you’re helping everyone,” Jaber said. “I work hard. I’m very team-oriented. I am not afraid to ask questions and answer hard questions, so that we all work together to make the work environment better for all.”


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F E AT U R E

TEYE REEVES

is ready to ‘spar’ on the issues of the day BY JIM ROSICA

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PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson

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eye Reeves stood on the liquor “wall of separation” this year as Walmart, Target, and others surrounded it and blew their trumpets. Though the battle was close, the wall did not fall. For the fourth year in a row, legislation was filed to do away with the Prohibition-era state law requiring businesses such as grocery chains and big-box retailers to have separate stores to sell hard liquor. Beer and wine already are sold in grocery aisles in Florida. Reeves, a lobbyist with Floridian Partners, represented Publix Super Markets. It’s long opposed the “whiskey and Wheaties” measure because of the Lakeland-based chain’s investment in its separate liquor stores. The bill got closest to passage this year: It passed both chambers on close margins — 21-17 in the Senate and a razor-thin 58-57 in the House, and five House members who missed the floor vote voted ‘no’ after the roll call. But Gov. Rick Scott finally vetoed the measure, saying it could hurt job creation. That was despite intense lobbying by a slew of the big-box stores’ influencers. Indeed, the years of opposition have taken a toll on relations among the lobby corps, Reeves says. “Up until this last session, I would say that it was always very congenial. You know, even with some of the lobbyists on the other side … They had 47 lobbyists within their coalition and we had 13.” Reeves worked shoulder to shoulder with, among others, Scott Dick, the contract lobbyist for ABC Fine Wine & Spirits and the Florida Independent Spirits Association. “... It was a brawl this last session,” she says. “And so I think that anytime an issue gets elevated to that standard, it’s going to become more difficult to manage the personal relationships. But you know, we’re all professionals, and I think that you kind of take a step back and say, ‘OK, that was that, and we’re moving ahead.’ I’ve still got to be able to work with those people in 5, 10 years down the road. So it’s important to maintain those relationships.” Especially when the proposal is sure to return: “I think that they have put in so much time, so many resources, over the course of the last several years, that I can’t imagine that they wouldn’t try something again.” Reeves, a Cape Coral native who’s lobbied professionally for nine years, says it wasn’t an issue in the whiskey and Wheaties debate, but her job is still “a male-dominated industry” that operates on the “good old boys’ system.”


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F E AT U R E

“As a female lobbyist, you have to be prepared to work harder and faster and smarter than what might be expected as a male counterpart,” she says. “When I first started lobbying, it was on a conference call. It was related to an insurance issue, and there were probably about 20 insurance lobbyists on the call. We were talking about a case that had just gone through the appellate level, and procedurally what our options were moving forward and what the court could potentially do. “And one of the old-school insurance lobbyists was talking about what he thought the court was going to do, and I piped up and put in my two cents about procedurally what they could do, and his response to me was, ‘What makes you so smart, little girl? Are you a lawyer?’ And I said, ‘Actually, yes sir, I am.’ ” There were more times where she wasn’t taken seriously, and others when she was dismissed outright, she says. “And there were times where — and it still happens — where you’re sitting in a meeting that’s mostly men, and I’ll keep on saying what I think we need to be doing. And nobody pays attention until a man says it and it’s like, ‘That’s the best thing I’ve ever heard. You’re a genius!’ That happened a lot more when I first started lobbying.” The toughness Reeves learned from martial arts helps. “When I was 7, my parents put me into karate as opposed to all of the other things that you usually put little girls into,” she says. “So by the time I was 15, I had my black belt, and I was competing all over Florida and the Southeast. And at that point, I was dealing with only men. I would go to a tournament and there would be no females in my age class, so they would have to put me in with the guys. I was sparring with them. “In that regard, it kind of made me almost fearless” when it comes to the sometimes-passive discrimination with which female lobbyists still have to contend. “It’s pretty easy for me to brush it off, because there isn’t a more adversarial way to be up against a guy than to have full gear on and be sparring with them. “And also, I won a lot.”

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They may seem nice, but lobbyists Kelly Mallette and Rana Brown aren’t afraid to mix it up in the pursuit of clients’ interests

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on Book is high on everyone’s “Top Gun” list as one of Florida’s perennially most effective and successful lobbyists. As one of the kings atop Tallahassee’s Capitol Hill, he would be the first to credit a lot of his strength and ongoing success to two key powers behind his throne: longtime colleagues Kelly Mallette and Rana Brown. Mallette and Brown may not appear to be particularly threatening when you meet them, but don’t mistake their calm and kind demeanors for weakness. “No one should confuse that physical appearance with niceness when crossed, misled, or someone is actually taking advantage of them or our client,” said their boss, Book. “No one should underestimate their ability to take them out for the count.” Both Mallette and Brown have demonstrated the deft ability to surgically remove parts of your body while you’re standing there, and you probably wouldn’t notice until you’re bleeding out, Book joked. That aggressiveness, coupled with likability, helps the women stand out as rock stars in a crowded and competitive field.

Mallette is known for her loyalty to clients and their causes. Book said: “She can be kind, sensitive, compassionate, and passionate, but she can mix it up with the best of them and knock you down and knock you out.” She once had a heated exchange with the chief of staff to a presiding officer in one of the legislative houses. She was told, essentially, to sit down and shut up. Mallette did neither. “The result of that was not simply an aggressive exchange, but one which, ultimately, had Kelly down through someone’s throat, ripping out their vocal cords, Book said. “Yes, she succeeded in the issue and didn’t just win the battle, but ultimately won the war.” Mallette’s passion for politics was nurtured by her family, who always were tuned in to the news. “When we went on vacation, we listened to all-talk radio, anywhere in the country,” she said. She carries on that tradition with her husband, software engineer Juan Fonseca, and her children, 10 and 6. At a young age, Mallette was senior policy advisor to then-Mayor Joe Carollo in Miami.

BY JOY DICKINSON She became hooked on politics. “It felt like a calling to me,” she said. Mallette later worked for then-Sen. Ron Silver. When Silver termed out of office, she received several offers. She asked her mentor, Book, which job she should accept. “He listened, then he said, ‘That’s all great, but you’re going to come work for me,’” she recalled. Mallette represents Fortune 500 companies, healthcare providers, professional sports franchises, community organizations, and professional associations. She uses the lessons she’s learned to her clients’ advantage. One night, Mallette, Brown, and Book were having a pre-session dinner with a state leader. The group ordered a bottle of wine, and the politician accidentally spilled the wine on her. “Being a good lobbyist, for the rest of that session, every time I went into his office, I said, ‘Remember that time you spilled a bottle of wine on me? This could make up for it.’” Just as Book is renowned for working longer days than nearly anyone in the Florida political process, Mallette works from early in the morning until late at night preparing her “cases” for the legislative session. “It’s not just 14 days of trial, but 60 days of a legislative session and months of interim meetings,” she said. “A lot of nitty gritty goes into it.” Mallette’s diligence and focus helped pass a newborn disease screening program that is among the nation’s best and helped pass consumer protections for automobile recalls. Her work ethic and credibility helped acquire appropriations for meaningful research, including studies of cancer among firefighters and paralysis. Book said, “I’d stand her up next to 99.9999 percent of everyone else who lobbies in the process, and I would pick her hands down as my No. 1 draft choice.” He credits her tenacity, focus, commitment, and raw intelligence as the reason. Brown, a longtime friend of Mallette’s, also is known for her toughness. Brown also worked for a mayor — former Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas — and for former Sen. Silver. When she was starting as a lobbyist for Book, she left the House Office Building one day, tripped, fell down some stairs, and hit a metal railing. Brown continued to the office. “I put an ice pack on

my face and kept going,” she said. “I wore my glasses the rest of the session because I had a black eye.” In addition to her toughness, Brown is known for having an eye for details. This attention to the nitty-gritty is constant, even at the end of the session. “People start to let loose the last day,” Brown said. “They say, ‘I give up,’ and they resign themselves to what happens.” Brown, however, diligently reads and dissects every legislative amendment and implementing bill. “We don’t stop,” she said. On the last day of one session, Brown was reading an implementing bill. An implementing bill gives guidance and instructions to state agencies on how to enforce state law. She saw older language that reversed everything that had been accomplished in a regulatory bill. Fifty lobbyists were representing that client, but Brown was the one who caught that small detail and ensured it was fixed for the client. “They were eternally grateful,” she said, “but I was just doing my job.” Such diligence has earned Brown the respect of her clients and colleagues, and it sets her apart. “You can learn people and issues,” she said, “but if you haven’t maintained a high level of respect for yourself and the process, and if others don’t maintain that respect of you, you have nothing.” Brown acknowledges that stress could “eat you alive” in this line of work, but said she’s able to laugh with her colleagues. “People get so intense during the session, and humor helps to diffuse that,” she said. Her hard work has earned the respect of Book, who describes her as a strategist, a tactician, and someone who is constantly driving and coordinating their agendas. “You will oftentimes, during session, find her in the office well after midnight making certain that every client we represent has that weekly report, all individually written in great detail, on all matters and issues of concern to the client and matters and issues that we are driving,” he says. “Nobody, from a coordination perspective, provides better service to our municipal and governmental clients than Rana does.” The issues change every day, and the session changes every year. What remains constant is being on the front lines with legislators and other leaders. “Working with my friends Ron and Kelly keeps me motivated,” Brown said. “That, and the chance to conquer new challenges.” FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 133


PHOTOS: Mary Beth Tyson, Mark Wallheiser, Marta Rhine

FUNDRAISERS

MAKING the ASK

Meet nine of Florida’s top fundraisers BY JENNA BUZZACCO-FOERSTER

134 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


I

t’s easy to think that politics is still very much a boys’ club. Just look at the numbers. Nationwide, women hold 75 statewide elected executive level offices — such as governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, or secretary of state — in 2017. When it comes to state legislative bodies, the Center for American Women and Politics reports there are 1,840 women legislators, roughly 25 percent of the 7,383 state legislators nationwide. In Florida, Attorney General Pam Bondi is the only female to hold a statewide elected position. Just eight of the 27 congressional seats are held by women; and nearly 26 percent of the Legislature — 12 of the Senate’s 40 members, and 29 of the 120 members of the House — are women. At press time, Democrat Annette Taddeo had just won a special election for Miami-Dade’s Senate District 40, adding another woman to that chamber. Yet behind the scenes, women are playing a key role in the political landscape. They’re chiefs of staff and heavy hitters in the lobby corps. And when it comes to campaigns, women are dominating in what just might be the most important job on the team — finance. INFLUENCE Magazine recently talked to some of Florida’s top female fundraisers about the often-grinding work of soliciting donations. For these ladies, raising thousands upon thousands of dollars each month for a wide variety of clients — including legislative, gubernatorial, and even a few presidential hopefuls — is no sweat. They can easily plan a knockout fundraiser, close a deal, and manage to be in the know about the ins and outs of each campaign they’re involved with. When it comes to fundraising, at least in Florida, women are getting the job done.

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FUNDRAISERS

Katie BALLARD

30, principal at K. Ballard Consulting Ballard saw her first foray into fundraising as a chance to learn a new skill, not a career move. Ballard got her start in finance with Sen. George LeMieux’s 2011 U.S. Senate campaign. By then, the Parkland native knew a thing or two about campaigns and government. She had worked for both the federal and state government, and helped run Rep. Bill Hager’s 2010 campaign. She knew she could do a lot of things, but fundraising just wasn’t something she had attempted. So when the deputy finance director job opened up, Ballard decided she should get the experience in case it ever came in handy in the future. Turns out, it has. Now one of the go-to fundraisers in the state, Ballard’s client roster includes Sen. Jack Latvala and Rep. Paul Renner, who was recently selected to be House Speaker beginning in 2022 if Republicans keep their majority. While Ballard gives the members she works with much of recognition for the final tallies, her competitive nature and determination were also key to her rise to the top.

ON WHAT MADE HER REALIZE SHE SHOULD BE IN FINANCE: “I think that I’m very competitive, and this

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

is a way to be competitive against myself in some ways. I’m well aware of the fact — depending on the campaign — if we don’t produce, that’s on me. Every month or every quarter, depending on the race, you are going to be judged on a metric. It’s quantifiable; there’s no ifs, ands, or buts. This is it, and it’s attached to my name and I need to perform.” ON HER CLIENTS: “I have been really lucky to work for people that I enjoy being with. I enjoy having dinner with them, so if I call you and ask you to have dinner with them, it’s really not a burden. I know these are good people. They’re in this for the right reason, and I have a lot of respect for them. I’m really proud of the members I’m able to work for, they get most of the credit for successes.” ON ADVICE TO OTHERS: “Be nice to people. I’ve been on both sides of this, so I’ve seen people making the ask as well as been the person making the ask, and a lot of times people, I don’t think, appreciate that these contributions come off of someone’s bottom line. Whether it’s an individual or corporation, they don’t have to give you this money. … I think that being appreciative of that fact and always (being) respectful is a big lesson I would stress most to future fundraisers that want to get involved.” ON BEING A WOMAN IN POLITICS: “I had always heard that it was a boys’ club and all of that, but I went into it like ‘I don’t care …. I’m not going to be defined as young or as a female.’ I just wanted people to know me as Katie Ballard, and didn’t really think much about the whole female component, maybe not as much as other people do. I just did my job, kept my head down, and worked hard — and good things have come from that. There’s some aspects of the industry that can be frustrating at times, but I would say large and apart, it’s really not too much of an issue. I think everyone has a part to play in this process, and people are respectful of your part if you treat them well and are just kind.”

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Lydia Claire BROOKS

34, Democratic fundraiser and general consultant Brooks’ career in fundraising started by happenstance. She was a utility player back then, but the campaign she was working on suddenly found itself in need of a finance person. Brooks had been in many of the meetings, on plenty of the calls, and had a ridiculously good memory. They decided to give her a shot and, years later, Brooks hasn’t regretted her decision to make the jump one bit. With more than a decade of experience under her belt, Brooks has worked for a variety of candidates, including Rod Smith, where she got her start in politics working as a scheduler for his 2005 campaign, and the Florida Democratic Party. She recently decided to hang her own shingle, even expanding her services to include general consulting.

ON REALIZING SHE HAD A KNACK FOR FUNDRAISING: “For me, my strongest asset is my

memory. I can remember when you’re talking to a donor not only who they are, but also what their issues are, what they care about, the history of that particular issue. It’s not just about remembering that this person is capable of giving X-number of dollars, it’s about what do they care about. If it’s only about dollars and cents, I think you … end up falling short. So just the realization, not only for me but for the folks that I’m working with, that I have that ability, that was the turning point.” ON STARTING HER OWN FIRM: “Anytime you go through transition periods, it’s not just about you doing new things and finding your own way, it’s also about showing other people you belong there and that you can stand on your own two feet in whatever it is you’re doing. … For me, and I don’t know if it’s true for a lot of women in general, but I sort of always try to just do the best work that I can do and then believe people will notice that and seek me out.”

ON SOME OF THE MOST MEMORABLE ADVICE SHE EVER RECEIVED: “The worst advice I

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

ever got was to just do my job and don’t worry about promoting myself for the next job, because in this field that isn’t really an option. I think that’s advice that women get that men don’t get. That’s a piece of advice that I think, in some ways, is harmful.” ON ADVICE SHE’D GIVE TO OTHERS: “The best advice I’ve ever received, and that I’d pass on to people new to The Process, is ‘Politics is about addition, not subtraction.’ This business is so competitive that it’s easy to think of it as a zero-sum game, that any business someone else gets means a loss for you. But I have found that the better approach is to be as inclusive as possible. You never know who is going to have a great new idea or when, but you should want him or her on your team when they have it.”

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FUNDRAISERS

Nicole HAGERTY 30, Republican fundraiser

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

A life in politics wasn’t initially part of Hagerty’s plan. The lifelong Tallahassee resident graduated from Flagler College with a business degree, and had no intention of going into politics. Her first real exposure to the Capitol and lobby corps was a stint working for the Lobbyist Registration Office while she was in college. But when her sister suggested her for an opening at Republican Party of Florida, Hagerty decided to give it a shot. Six years later, she’s still at it. Hagerty left Senate campaigns, where she rose to the position of deputy finance director, in 2016 to work with Sen. Bill Galvano and his political committee, Innovate Florida. She’s still working with Galvano and his team, but also is working to raise money for Senate Majority. ON WHAT SHE LEARNED UNDER GALVANO: “I think that I have learned the most … under Sen. Galvano. All last year he had me traveling to different campaigns doing hard-dollar fundraising, and all my time under Senate Majority’s umbrella I was doing soft dollar. So last year was my first awakening of here’s a totally different side of fundraising, throw yourself in and figure it out. We met goals (in) every single campaign I worked on. I was my own little tent through Innovate Florida, and I was like ‘OK, I can do this ... I can make quota and this is pretty cool.’” ON RAISING HARD DOLLARS VERSUS SOFT DOLLARS: “I found hard dollar is much more of a local approach. With the candidate, you’re really working with them on who do you know in your area — whether it’s building the relation or you already have the relationship — that you can get those campaign funds from. You’re still working with the lobbyists, because they do help with the bulk of the money, but the hard dollars (are) much more local, individualized, and bringing in the community. … I think that’s a little bit harder approach, because a lot of these people … don’t know who I am, they only know the candidates. So it is a lot of work with the candidate, and then you have to be able to step in and say ‘can you help with personal money for this member?’ That was the biggest challenge, to make sure I could build a relationship, as well as the member building a relationship, with the local folks in the district.” ON HAVING TO GO BACK TO DONORS: “(You have to) able to have really raw conversations about the landscapes of our elections and what we’re truly dealing with and where the money is going, and why we need the help and the additional funds. I think when you’re able to have those conversations, people feel the need to help more and then they’re able to relay that to their clients, or their team, or their CEO, or however the train works. That’s the more powerful approach in my opinion. My boss … is really good about drawing up that conversation. He knows that’s what people want to hear; they need to know the outline of what we’re dealing with.” ON ADVICE SHE’D GIVE OTHERS: “I think the thing I would tell someone is you will have stressful days, but try not to let that to ruin your entire day. Obviously take it seriously, because you have deadlines you’re trying to meet and that’s why it’s stressful. … You can really get wrapped up in the stress of a deadline and forget that ‘I have a family, too,’ or ‘I’m doing just fine and this will all come together.’ It is a big picture, so when you get down to the nitty gritty of ‘this month I have to do this financially,’ sometimes you miss out on the whole picture. Maybe next month you’ll hit way over your goal, if you didn’t hit it this month. That’s the kind of thing I would say: Don’t lose your sanity.” 138 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


Stephanie MCCLUNG 32, finance director for Democrat Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign

PHOTO: Marta Rhine

McClung learned early on she had a knack for raising money. As an intern for President George W. Bush’s re-election campaign, she was tasked with making cold calls to donors. They were far from fun, but at the end of each day McClung always seemed to rack up the most contributions of all the interns. It happened in each campaign she would work on, including when she was an intern on then-Gov. Charlie Crist’s 2010 U.S. Senate campaign. When Crist ran for governor as a Democrat in 2014, he told McClung he wanted her to try out finance full time. She remembers him saying he knew it wasn’t something she really enjoyed, but thought she would excel at it. He was right. McClung, now the finance director for Orlando Democrat Chris King’s gubernatorial campaign, said that was the race she realized “this was actually (my) passion.” ON WHAT MAKES HER STAND OUT: “I think my strength in fundraising is I build relationships with them. I don’t treat these donors like they’re ATMs. I really respect them, and I want them to respect me and my opinions as well.” ON HER RELATIONSHIP WITH ‘INVESTORS’: “I think the important part is not going back to the same (person) time and time again. But when you do, they know it’s important and when it’s coming from you, you want it to be from a very authentic and honest place. I want them to know this is not something I’m going to do regularly, so I develop a plan of who I’m going to go back to each and every month so I’m not hitting the same people. Even if we are in a position where we desperately need money, if I’ve promised them I’m not going to circle back, I don’t. I think a lot of fundraisers continually hit them so they just stop taking their calls, because they know what’s coming. But I think the most important part of that is something I regularly try to practice is calling the donors — actually I’ve developed calling them investors instead of donors — without asking for money. Just calling to give them updates, I think that’s the most important thing, for me, is saying ‘hey, here’s some poll numbers coming out tomorrow, I want you to have them first, keep them confidential,’ and so on, and not ask for money, so the only time they hear from me isn’t when I’m asking for money.” ON WOMEN IN POLITICS: “I think females in politics are on the rise, especially in staffing roles, but it’s definitely a tough field to break into. The stereotype is there for a reason, but it’s something we battle with every day, and try not to give it too much attention and keep moving forward.” ON THE ADVICE SHE’D GIVE OTHERS: “I think if you’re going into finance, you kind of have to expect you’re going to have to be thrown to the wolves a little bit and learn it for yourself. I always said I was going to nurture my staff and teach them, but now that I’m on this statewide race, I have staff under me who have never done it before and I find myself saying ‘you have to figure it out.’ Finance is a tough world to be in. I was fortunate to have Greg (Goddard), and you just have to take little pieces of advice as they come and develop your own style for fundraising. I think that’s the most important part. There’s different styles of fundraising, and you can’t try to mimic somebody else’s because it’s not going to necessarily work for you.” FALL INFLUENCE | 139


FUNDRAISERS

Meredith

O’ROURKE

46, owner of The O’Rourke Group It’s not an exaggeration to say O’Rourke has spent most of her adult life raising money. O’Rourke landed her first job as a finance director in 1994, right out of college. She had interned for the Republican Party of Virginia during college, but being hired to be the finance director for the South Carolina Republican Party was her first venture into the world of fundraising. It’s a world she has excelled in. After several years working for state parties in South Carolina and Virginia, and the Republican National Committee, O’Rourke hung her own shingle and launched her own firm in the Washington, D.C. area. She moved to Florida in 1998, following her family to the Sunshine State and starting anew. Her connections to national donors helped as she once again launched her own firm. With more than 20 years of experience under her belt, O’Rourke has made a name for herself as one of the top Republican fundraisers in Florida. She’s worked with Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Sen. Jack Latvala during his Senate presidency bid, and several other Republicans on the national stage, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Mitt Romney. ON HER FIRST JOB IN FINANCE: “I found it to be very exciting. It was actually a niche I did not know a tremendous amount about, but I loved it. I enjoyed it; it was ever changing. Working with the donor community at such a young age, I really felt as though I learned a lot from people I interacted with and it was such a great steppingstone.” ON STARTING OVER IN FLORIDA: “When I moved to Florida I was fortunate enough to pick up a couple of clients. I worked for Congressman Clay Shaw and Mark Foley, and I just started building from there. … It was challenging to start back over, but there’s a national network of donors that I came in touch with through the Republican Committee, so it was kind of a natural transition.”

ON THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF BEING IN FUNDRAISING NOW: “I think that right

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

now the country is in need of strong leadership, and I think that the donor community is really smart in the fact that they are taking their time before investing in a candidate. I think that, in terms of this industry, is the biggest challenge right now. I think that it’s a little longer of a process.” ON WOMEN IN POLITICS: “I think in the early ’90s the political side was predominately male. When you would go to meetings, generally there were very few women. That has evolved now, where to me that is not necessarily the case. There are men and women at the table. I think, in terms of the political landscape, different life experiences brought to the table brings different perspective, and I think that can only help.” 140 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


Gretchen PICOTTE 46, founder of Political Capital Picotte can trace her political career back to a bumper sticker. It was 1994, and she had recently graduated college and was living in Orlando. She passed the Jeb Bush for Governor campaign office daily, and decided she should pop in one day to pick up a red JEB! bumper sticker. While there, Marc Reichelderfer asked her if she wanted to volunteer. Picotte said she jumped at the opportunity, and spent the election cycle running a phone bank and catching the political bug. That opportunity led to valuable connections. She went to work as then-Rep. Bill Sublette’s district secretary, and convinced him she should work on his campaign when it was time for him to run for re-election. On the campaign, she grabbed the attention of his consultants, Tre’ Evers and John Sowinski, who hired her to do scheduling and fundraising for Mel Martinez in his bid for Orange County Chairman. She fell in love with fundraising, and has been at it ever since. Over the years, she’s worked on Rudy Giuliani’s 2008 presidential bid, Adam Hasner’s 2012 U.S. Senate and U.S. House campaigns, and the 2012 presidential campaigns of Republicans Tim Pawlenty and Rick Perry.

ON HOW HER APPROACH TO FUNDRAISING HAS EVOLVED: “Each election cycle is different. Different clients, dif-

ferent issues, different political climates — not only in Florida, but across the country. In finance, you must adapt quickly. Fundraising itself doesn’t change throughout the years: each candidate is different; they operate differently; they work differently; they approach fundraising differently. The fundraising methods remain the same; how you accomplish your tasks with each client differs. As I gained experience and the ability to take on more clients, I was able to take on an employee, Rick Porter, who has become more of a partner and a leader in his own right. He is an invaluable part of our team and I no doubt think you’ll be writing about him soon. I often joke, our clients like him more than me … it might not actually be a joke!” ON WHAT MAKES HER STAND OUT IN THE FIELD: We all have our strengths and shortcomings, but I think experience. I have worked on presidential, RNC Convention, governor’s races down to the most local of local races. I’ve pretty much seen it all. One important part of fundraising you haven’t asked about is the consultants we work with. Building relationships not only with donors, but also the political consultants is so important. We, as fundraisers, don’t drive the message; we rely heavily on the consultants to manage the messaging and packaging the candidate for donors. Their expertise and help is invaluable. There are some you wish to work with on every cycle and some, well, not.”

ON THE WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART ABOUT BEING IN FUNDRAISING NOW: “The national political

climate. It is all over the map. From one donor to the next. Some people love the president, some don’t. Congressional approval ratings are at an all-time low and there is more than one avenue in which to raise money for each race you work on. It’s is a good thing for fundraisers; it’s a lot to work on. While Super PACs and state PCs are ‘unlimited,’ donors still have their limits. Figuring out what that is and how to ask takes more legwork than it used to.”

PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

ON THE MOST MEMORABLE ADVICE SHE RECEIVED:

“My dad taught me a great lesson: don’t go to your boss at the 11th hour with a problem and expect them to solve it. Identify an issue early, figure out a solution, then present the problem along with the solution and ownership of the situation. Things will usually turn out better than you think.” FALL INFLUENCE | 141


FUNDRAISERS

Ashley ROSS

34, deputy chief of staff for Senate President Joe Negron and former finance director for the Florida Republican Senate Campaign Committee

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

After seven years in finance, Ross has hit the pause button. But don’t think the Tallahassee resident is slowing down. Instead of spending her days and nights thinking campaigns, Ross is advising Senate President Joe Negron on commerce and tourism, military and veterans affairs, space and domestic policy, and community affairs, among other things. Ross joined the Republican Party of Florida in 2009, spending much of her time working on Senate campaigns. In 2015, Negron was trying to wrap up his bid for the Senate presidency and brought Ross on board to work exclusively with his political committee. Her work was rewarded: When Negron took over, he asked Ross to join him in the Capitol as one of his top aides. It’s unlikely the move to policy will a permanent one for Ross. While she got her start working in Gov. Jeb Bush’s legislative affairs office and worked in government relations at the PGA of America, Ross said she fully intends to get back into the fundraising game once her time with Negron comes to an end in 2018. ON GETTING INTO FUNDRAISING: “On its surface … it just sounds intimidating, asking for people for money. But the more I got to learn about it, (I realized) it was strictly based on relationships. I tried to meet with lobbyists and potential donors and people I know from other walks of life as I was considering the job, and asked them what do they think is so important, what would be something that would be helpful for me to know if I got into this. And almost exclusively, time after time, people said donors need to feel more appreciated, they feel like everything is transactional and impersonal, and bringing a little bit more personality and style into it would be really refreshing. I feel like, with my marketing background, in a way I kind of looked (at it) like instead of marketing products, I’m marketing people and marketing … political ideals. I found a lot of things I learned in the classroom were able to translate into being successful in fundraising.” ON LEAVING RPOF TO WORK FOR NEGRON: “I knew that at the end of the day the point was for Joe Negron to lock down the presidency, and (for me to) come back. At that point, we weren’t able to raise a ton of money for the 2016 cycle and I knew there were so many seats that were so vulnerable and the only way for that to happen was for the leadership race to be put to bed and everyone to come forward together. … There would have been no way that we were able to come back. We went from 25 members to 24, and some people were projecting that we were going to end up at 21 and barely hang on to the majority. There was just no other way than to just go ahead and wrap things up, get everyone united around one person and around one central fund to raise money for candidates and have everyone get together for 2016.” ON TEMPORARILY LEAVING FUNDRAISING: “In some ways, I do worry because it’s somewhat unknown. But in a lot of ways, I know there was always a gap with what I knew political and what happens in the policy world. I feel like these two years are helping me complete my understanding of the political process, and I think I’ll not only be a stronger fundraiser, but a stronger person for it. In a way, I kind of always say this is my two-year grad school again. You know exactly how long it is, that some days will be difficult … but I know I’m learning something every single day and I think I’m making an impact and I think I’m being helpful.” ON ADVICE SHE GIVES PEOPLE: “I had a grammar teacher who said, you’re not allowed to break the rules of grammar until you learn all the rules of grammar. When we first get started, you’re taught don’t schedule a dinner for a member unless you’re raising a certain amount of money, or don’t take time up for them to go to a breakfast unless you’re raising a certain amount of money. Obviously, you need to make sure it’s worth everyone’s time and keep a certain stature of leadership positions, but also realize that for some people it’s much easier to write a $10,000 check than it is for others.” 142 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


Ieva SHMIDT 28, finance coordinator at Florida Finance Strategies Ask Shmidt how she got into fundraising, and her answer is simple: She fell into it. She started out as an intern at the Republican Party of Florida, and was asked to cold call for the annual RPOF Statesman’s Dinner, one of the largest fundraising events of the year. They must have been impressed with her abilities; she was soon assigned to the finance department and spent the next two years working with House campaigns. Shmidt made the jump over to the Capitol in 2012, spending nearly two years in the Speaker’s Office, before joining Florida Finance Strategies in 2014. The firm has a host of clients, and Shmidt credits Kris Money and Trey McCarley with teaching her everything she knows about fundraising.

ON HOW HER APPROACH HAS CHANGED OVER THE YEARS: “In the begin-

ning, it was hard to call people I had never met and ask them to contribute money to an event or to a candidate. I remember wondering why anyone would agree to that.  Over the years, I’ve learned that people are generous, sometimes they just need a little push. As a fundraiser, I’ve come to find out that my job is less about just asking people for money and more about giving people a reason to give.”

ON LESSONS FROM A CHALLENGING POINT HER CAREER: “The beginning of my ca-

reer was a rough one. Experiencing the transition the RPOF went through in 2010 showed me how quickly things change in this field. Your world can be turned upside down overnight. I learned how to adapt quickly and think on my feet. It showed me that while things don’t always turn out as you planned, you can end up in a better place. Embrace the changes, unexpected as they may be.”

ON WHAT MAKES HER STAND OUT IN THE FIELD: “How many other Lithuanians do

you know of working in political finance? All joking aside, anyone who knows me knows that I not only embrace new challenges, but I have never met a stranger in my life.”

is not an easy business to break into, mainly because it’s built on relationships — and those take time to build. I also don’t think that people realize that finance is not just about the money. You have to be able to analyze and understand policy and how it relates to your client and their fundraising. Working in different areas of the political arena will make you a better fundraiser. Take your time, build those relationships, develop an understanding of policy and how the political process works. Then, if you are really determined to work in finance, find a candidate or cause that you are truly passionate about.”

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

ON ADVICE SHE WOULD GIVE TO SOMEONE GETTING INTO FUNDRAISING: “This

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FUNDRAISERS

Nancy TEXEIRA

37, founder and CEO of Ground Game Solutions

PHOTO: Mary Beth Tyson

About a dozen years ago, Texeira had a choice: Either become the political director or finance director for Senate Victory within the Florida Democratic Party. She had limited experience in the world of finance, but knew her way around the political side of things, having worked on several campaigns — including then-Sen. Joe Lieberman’s 2004 presidential bid — over the years. She was conflicted, and remembers Joe McCann, who told her about both positions, telling her to take the finance job, describing it as the “best position on a campaign.” She decided to heed his advice, and more than a decade later, she’s still head-over-heels for the industry. “I absolutely love fundraising,” she said. While Texeira spent much of the early part of her career working on Democratic campaigns, she now works for Sen. Bill Galvano and his political committee, Innovate Florida. But the campaign veteran said she tries not to think about party lines, and is instead grateful to be at a place in her career that she can decide to work with people she believes in. ON GETTING INTO POLITICS: “I have an interesting background. Even though I studied politics and English in college and I had a lot of internships around that, my first job out of college was at Conde Nast publications … and my office was in Times Square. But I moved there the summer of ’01, so I was in the city during 9/11 and the gentleman I was dating had passed away in the towers. That prompted me to do something a little more, I thought, substantive — something that was more meaningful. I quit my job and was thinking about joining the military and met these people in … Hoboken, New Jersey who were doing a campaign. I was a Republican at the time, and they convinced me to work on these Democratic races. I thought it would be interesting, and then I ended up falling in love with it.” ON WORKING IN FINANCE: “A lot of people get into this and say … ‘I’m going to do this so I can … move into policy.’ If you know how to do it well, you understand that it’s not just asking people for money. You need to be on top of everything a campaign is doing. You are at a table with all the consultants who are determining every little bit of how a campaign is going to be executed. If people think it’s not as political as the other positions on the campaign, they’re wrong. I get a lot of fulfillment out of fundraising.” ON HER DECISION TO WORK FOR GALVANO: “Everybody I’ve worked for and everyone I’ve worked with, I have developed a really strong relationship with them. They become family, so I’m not really connected as much to either political party. I’m really very much committed to my clients and the people I work for and trying to make sure they are in the best positions for themselves. Bill, his family is amazing. He is amazing. He has been one of the best advocates for his staff of any member I have ever worked with. He has really committed to when you become part of his staff, you become part of his family. He’s really committed to everyone’s personal growth. If you have a career goal, he’ll do everything he can to nurture that. He’s just a good person.” ON HER ADVICE TO OTHERS: “It’s easier to have (a job) that’s very demanding on every part of your life, if you really feel like at the end of the day that you’re doing something you believe in and you’re helping people that you believe in, that you believe in their agenda, and they’re appreciative of what you do for them. … I would tell someone trying to get into this, be true to you and try to work with people you’re passionate about.” 144 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017


Prepared for the Worst:

Protecting Florida’s Most Vulnerable Keeping nursing center residents and staff safe has always been — and will continue to be — our top priority. • Over the past year, nearly 1,500 long term care professionals have taken part in FHCA emergency preparedness trainings — from community-based discussions to disaster drills to educational seminars. • A recent survey by Emory University showed that 94% of Florida nursing centers have regular communications with local emergency management agencies to discuss emergency preparedness … 88% discuss emergency preparedness with their residents … 85% share emergency preparedness policies with residents’ families. • During Hurricane Irma, FHCA centers performed over 60 successful evacuations, while more than 500 other facilities successfully sheltered their residents in place. • Upwards of 400 nursing centers lost power during Hurricane Irma, yet FHCA member centers continued successfully caring for 68,000 residents throughout the storm.

FHCA is committed to finding solutions and working with the Administration, the Legislature and regulators to strengthen resident-focused procedures for nursing center emergency power plans. Together, let’s protect residents and harden our state’s nursing centers even further to address future possible disasters.

Our frailest citizens deserve nothing less.

Learn more at FHCA.org FALL INFLUENCE | 145


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What I’ve Learned

Marion Hammer 78, Tallahassee Longtime Florida lobbyist for National Rifle Association and Unified Sportsmen of Florida, former NRA president 1995-98 AS TOLD TO JIM ROSICA IN TALLAHASSEE

ON THE VALUE OF TRUTH-TELLING AS A LOBBYIST: My life lessons that my grandparents taught me as they were raising me apply to lobbying. Tell the truth, be respectful, know what you’re talking about or don’t open your mouth. Part of what I’ve learned through the process is that honesty is your best friend. I’ve also learned that my opponents apparently didn’t have the same kind of upbringing …. In the old days, if you told a lie to a legislator, or in a committee, you became persona non grata. You weren’t welcome anymore. At some point in the process, when lobbyists began to avoid the truth, there was talk about swearing in lobbyists before they testified in committee, which I thought was a good thing. It never went anywhere. It seems almost that some lobbyists have viewed that failure as permission to be untruthful. I don’t know whether or not you remember Tom Tedcastle. (He) was the staff director of the House Criminal Justice Committee when Elvin Martinez was chairman, many, many years ago. Throughout Tom’s career, he rose to a position of strength and leadership in the House. Very respected attorney, died a few years ago. One day, he called me in his office and asked me a bunch of questions about a piece of legislation. I answered his questions, and he looked at me and he smiled. He said, “You know, when you ask Marion Hammer a question, you know she’s going to tell you the truth even if it hurts her.” That’s one of the biggest compliments I’ve ever had, because I do my research, I do my homework, and I try to be absolutely sure everything I say is factual and truthful. If I’m not sure, I don’t say it. On the other hand, I go into committee, there are lobbyists on the other side of my issue …. I sometimes wonder if they lay awake at night making that stuff up. They don’t seem to mind being untruthful.

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PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

“Tell the truth, be respectful, know what you’re talking about or don’t open your mouth. Part of what I’ve learned through the process is that honesty is your best friend.”

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WHAT I’VE LEARNED

An undated photo of Hammer at target practice. (Photo: NRA) ON LAWMAKERS AND LYING: Absolutely, that has happened …. More than once, but I don’t intend to name names. (And) never by the same lawmaker, because fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me … It’s normally freshmen. I’ll give you an example: There was a freshman who ran on a strong Second Amendment, strong NRA supporter campaign, in a district where you really needed to be strong on our issues. We have a questionnaire every election cycle that deals with the issues we expect to be dealing with in the upcoming two years, to find out where they stand on these issues, and to find out whether or not they’re knowledgeable, so that we can provide them information if they don’t know. We had a candidate who had our top rating, who had our support, and during the first year, we had a bill that we had worked on come to the floor. I had not heard a word from this particular legislator through the process, and I get a phone call on my cell phone. He’s on the floor, they’re getting ready to vote, and he calls to tell me that I’m going to have to give him a pass, because he’s going to have to vote against me on this one, and that you’re just going to have to understand that this is important to somebody in my district. I said, “Well, I’m sorry, but we don’t give passes, and this is important to a lot of people in your district,” and he voted against us. He was the only Republican in the entire Legislature to vote against the bill, which subsequently passed. His grade the next election cycle reflected the fact that he had voted against the rights of law-abiding gun owners. Although we did not directly oppose him, he still had a tough time, because he had been downgraded, and his district knew it .... It’s rather hard when there’s no primary, and when you know the opponent on the other side is going to be rabid against you. Which is why we started 150 | INFLUENCE FALL 2017

Hammer in an NRA promotional photo. (Photo: NRA)


seeking out primary opponents. (That’s) in any race where we feel that the incumbent has not been truthful with us, or his constituents, on our issues.

Marion Hammer with former Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005 as he signs the “Stand Your Ground” bill. (Photo: NRA)

ON HER TWO BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENTS: Right to carry ... in 1987. (Florida was) the first state to pass that legislation, and now almost all states have shall-issue right to carry. At the same time, we passed pre-emption to put a stop to local governments and local politicians using their own political philosophy to try to shape laws and regulations at the local level to circumvent state law and the constitution. Then in 2005, the Castle Doctrine, socalled Stand Your Ground law … it restored your fundamental right of self defense. Your right to defend yourself when under attack had been circumvented by prosecutors and the courts, through jury instructions. With no legislative authority whatever, they had created jury instructions to tell jurors if an individual who exercised self defense had not tried to escape first, before fighting back, they had to find them guilty. There is no duty to retreat in statutory law. The doctrine that there is no duty to retreat goes back to the 1400s in English common law that we brought with us to this country. The very idea that you would have to retreat from your own home when under attack is about as repulsive as it gets, and so the Castle Doctrine — because your home is your castle, and you have every right to defend yourself and your castle from an intruder — is what this legislation was all about. At one particular place in that law, it said that, when outside the home, if you are in any place that you have a right to be, lawfully … and someone attacks you, you have no duty to retreat. You may stand your ground and fight back. Opponents of self-defense laws, opponents of law-abiding citizens fighting back, used that one line in a bill to claim that it was going to cause all manner of mayhem. The very idea that if you fight back when under attack, that it’s going to turn Florida into the old Wild West is ludicrous. If criminals know that you’re going to fight back, they’ll choose their victims more carefully. If they don’t know whether … a potential victim may be armed, they’ll generally leave them alone, because studies from incarcerated felons show that they may be criminals, but they’re not stupid. They don’t want to be shot. If they fear their victim may be armed, they’ll leave them alone. Criminals, whether they’re drug dealers or carjackers or whatever, use every tool that they can find to try to prove that they’re innocent. Did you ever see a criminal in court say, “Oh, yes, I did it. You got me.”? You know, every single, solitary time we pass a good piece of legislation that pro-

tects and/or restores constitutional gun rights, we hear the same thing, the old Wild West, the O.K. Corral, blood in the streets, shootouts at every corner — and it never happens. You would think they would get tired of being proven wrong. When we passed concealed carry in 1987, they said all of that stuff, and a year later, none of it happened. It still hasn’t happened. We have over a million-six concealed weapon license holders, and statistics show that license holders are the safest segment of society. Their record of law-abiding behavior even exceeds that of law enforcement officers. It’s interesting because initially, in ’87, law enforcement was against it. Sheriffs, police chiefs, PBA, FOP .... “Oh, we don’t want hidden guns. It’s a danger to law enforcement. If people are going to carry guns, they need to carry them openly so we can see them.” Now they’re saying, “If we can’t see it, we don’t know it’s there, and it’s fine. If we see somebody carrying a gun, we don’t know if it’s a law-abiding citizen or a criminal, and if we come up to a crime scene and somebody’s standing there with a gun on their hip, we don’t know if it’s the criminal.” Well, what criminal is going to stand around on a crime scene where they’ve just committed a crime with a gun in open view? It just, it never ceases to amaze me how stupid some of the arguments can be. I will tell you, from 1892 to 1987, open carry was legal in Florida. You want to know what happened in ’87? You probably don’t want to print it, but ... Gov. (Bob) Martinez panicked. They had a special session. When concealed carry passed, you had to have a license to carry concealed. Well, open carry was legal. We had a couple TV reporters strap a Western holster with a six-gun on their hip, stand out in front of my door that you just came in, and do a TV spot that went statewide, that said, “Why would anybody want to pay for a license to carry concealed when anybody can carry openly?” Walk up and down the street, and then TV reporters all over the state started doing the same thing, and Gov. Martinez panicked, and during a special session, they repealed open carry. This one reporter tried to get me to come out and give him an interview in front of my office. (It didn’t happen.)

ON BEING A WOMAN LOBBYIST IN THE OLD DAYS: It was interesting, but not really difficult. Because when I appeared before committees, there were practically no women in the legislative process. I was told, and I believe it’s accurate, that I was the only woman representing a national interest here in Florida, the only woman lobbyist. The first time I appeared in committee, members of the committee started asking me questions about guns and ammunition and black powder, and I knew more about it than they did, so it didn’t take long before word passed that I knew what I was talking about. I had been a competitive shooter. I knew the issues. When they asked questions, they were pertinent questions, not questions just to trip me up. It was not always easy being called “honey” and “little darling” and “sugar pie,” but it came with the territory back then. ON HER STILL BEING A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT: I started in ’74 (under a Democrat-controlled Legislature). Because the Democrats, back then, believed in the Constitution, all of it, not just the parts they liked. The sponsors of right-to-carry were Democrats. Ron Johnson, Spud Clements, former law enforcement, they were Democrats. They were strong Second Amendment. They were strong NRA. We had, in the House, 77 cosponsors, and there were only a handful of Republicans in the House at the time. I will tell you that I am a lifelong conservative Democrat. I never changed. The party changed. That’s why so many Democrats who believed in family values, who believed in the Constitution, who believed FALL 2017 INFLUENCE | 151


PHOTO: Mark Wallheiser

WHAT I’VE LEARNED

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If you don’t teach young people about the out of doors, about hunting and fishing and camping and hiking and boating, they won’t have a vested interest in the future of the out of doors.


in the Second Amendment, left the party. I switched one time. That was to vote for Ronald Reagan … in the Republican primary. Then I switched back. I remain a Democrat so that I can tell other Democrats, it’s OK to love your country, to love your flag, to believe in the Constitution, to believe in family values, and still be a Democrat. Having a “D” after your name doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to be a criminal-coddling, anti-gun, tax-and-spend legislator. It just does now. WHO SHE ADMIRES IN THE LOBBYING CORPS: I would not presume to reveal that to anybody. There are some people in The Process that I respect. Most of the people, however, with whom I deal and come in contact with on a regular basis, I have little respect for, and no admiration, because they seem to be hired guns that say what they’re paid to say, whether it’s true or not, and that’s not the cloth from which I’m cut. I don’t run around looking for other lobbyists to help me. WHO SHE ADMIRES IN THE PRESS CORPS: I think Bill Cotterell (of the Tallahassee Democrat) understands the issue. When he writes about the issues, he provides insight that shows he understands the issue, and he’s not just writing what his bosses expect him to write. I don’t always agree with him, but he has written some pretty good columns that I would have been proud to sign my name to. There have been reporters here and there who have covered … a particular story,

fairly and honestly — and that’s all we ask. Be unbiased, give both sides, and be factual. Don’t just make up stuff. Don’t report stuff that you know isn’t true. If somebody gives you a quote that you know isn’t true, and represents it to be facts, why report something that you know isn’t true, even though it’s a quote? That’s bias. In my personal opinion, when you use a direct quote that is distorted or untrue, and you know it, that’s your way of showing your bias. It’s like I walk outside and I tell a reporter, “The sky is not blue. It’s actually green,” and they’re standing there and they’re looking at it, and they know it’s blue, and yet, they report, “The sky is green, according to Marion Hammer.” They report it as a fact. That’s dishonest. ON RETIREMENT, AND STAYING IN TALLAHASSEE: Only in your dreams. Who will take my place when I’m gone? Headquarters will decide that. There are people at headquarters with whom I work regularly, who are well qualified to take my place. Not as short, not as pithy. ON HER WORK OUTSIDE OF SESSION: Well, this summer, we had three special elections. We always have something. We’re looking at issues, we’re deciding what our legislative priorities will be next session. I am a co-chairman with Bobby Brantley, former lieutenant governor, of the Capital City Friends of NRA Committee, which is a branch of the NRA Foundation, and we raise money for our educational activities, our youth activities, and we give

grants to like 4-H, the Scouts, FWC’s youth programs, and all of that keys into the basic belief and concern for the Second Amendment, the right to keep and bear arms. If you don’t teach young people about the out of doors, about hunting and fishing and camping and hiking and boating, they won’t have a vested interest in the future of the out of doors. They won’t have an interest in protecting it. Environmentalists, they missed the boat. Hunters are the biggest conservationists of our natural resources in existence. A lot of the lands that are hunting lands, that are pristine lands for birdwatching and hiking, for people who don’t like guns, they exist because of hunters, because of our conservation activities, the hunting license fees that we pay, that help purchase and protect the out of doors. You look at a lot of these youngsters, young Republicans, they’re out enjoying life, the out of doors, and I look at a lot of these young kids who are Democrats, rioting ... Rioting is not a recreation. They need to live life. ON EARNING RESPECT: My granddaddy told me, “You don’t give respect, you earn it.” If you respect others, they will respect you. Yes, there are those who are afraid of me, because they know that I’m going to pay attention, and I am going to tell the truth, and it might hurt them. If anything, I believe I have a reputation of being truthful and honest in all of my dealings in my profession. ][

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The Big Question

Q: WHICH WOMAN IN YOUR LIFE

HAS HAD THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR CAREER?

Katherine Harris. My first job out of college was with her. I served a stint as her travel aide when she was Secretary of State (the stories I could tell) before she brought me onto her first congressional campaign and then offered me a job in D.C. I learned a lot from Katherine. She’s the one who put me on this track and I’ll always be grateful. — Brewster Bevis, Associated Industries of Florida Mary Kay Cariseo (now Detzner). Mary Kay is a family friend of my wife’s, but she adopted me like I was her own. In my early days in The Process, it was nice to have someone I could ask the “dumb questions.”  She helped with introductions, would pass along intel and tips and, when schedules allowed, she would take me to dinner at Mom and Dad’s Italian on the outskirts of town.  Lucky for her, she is retired; and lucky for me she still answers my calls. — Chris Carmody, GrayRobinson

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My wife, Tanya Corbella. Tanya was a budget writer in OPB for Gov. Jeb Bush’s health care agencies. An accomplished professional herself, she set her career aside to become a full-time mom to our then-newly born son and to help keep the home fires lit.  That allowed me to continue to thrive in my legislative career as Chief of Staff of the Senate, and then as a lobbyist in the private sector. Having that kind of unconditional support back home was and continues to be invaluable. — Gus Corbella, Greenberg Traurig Santa Fe College Political Science ProfesDonna Waller. She’s old-school sor politics, like Barnard-College-in-the-’60s old school. She encouraged me to get involved with some city council races in Gainesville. The rest is history. — Cesar Fernandez, Uber Ashley Ross. I’m blessed to have her in both my personal and professional life.  She teaches me something new every day.  I’m just glad she’s taken a brief hiatus from fundraising and can’t ask me for money every day. — Scott Ross, Capital City Consulting

Marian Johnson. The That’s easy, political guru took me under her wing in 1987 and helped turned me from a moderate Democrat into a conservative Dem without even trying.  There was nothing overt, but just being around her and hearing her philosophy about which candidates to support, I learned that the private enterprise system is the predicate our democracy is built on. — Barney Bishop, Barney Bishop Consulting My mother-in-law from my first marJoan Barrett. When I decidriage, ed to run for mayor of Safety Harbor in 1996 at 26, she was the first to say I could win it, and I did! She believed in me and supported my dreams, when others were naysayers. Mary Beth Fox had the biggest impact on my career. She was the marketing director for Eckerd Drugstores, headquartered in Clearwater back in 1999. After my term as mayor, she hired me as the company’s first public relations manager, my big break into Fortune 500 public relations. Her taking a chance on a small-town mayor set me on my path to a 20-year career in Tallahassee. — Patrick Slevin, SL7 Consulting


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INFLUENCE Florida Magazine Fall 2017  

Featuring the annual Golden Rotunda awards for the best work in the lobbying industry.